Hey, Stop Hitting on my Wife!

I mentioned in a previous post that Ron and I had the opportunity to get a little birding in at the end of last week. Not only did that allow us to get a quick break from the stress building up over the last 6 or 7 weeks, it also provided a huge boost to our “Average Year” counts. We took a setback when we canceled the Dauphin migration trip originally planned in April. We have managed to claw back some of the migrating checks thanks to a trip up to Montrose Bird Sanctuary, a new place called LaBagh Woods (will definitely have a future post on that gem) and then several locations around our favorite Chain ‘O Lakes State Park area. That two day trip allowed me to bump up my ’22 count to 245!!! Apologies, I still need to update the Birding Chronicles stats page (link here). Then Ron followed that up with a side trip, managing to get this species checked off his list.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

That was a good pick up on me as I haven’t been able to locate ones of these fireballs yet. In honor of his accomplishment, decided to go ahead with this series from an encounter I had while we were down at Dauphin Island back in April of last year. I also get to continue my green theme from the last two posts.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Hit the jump to read more about our encounter with this brilliantly colored bird.

well, at least there is green in the background ha. I am completely out of green birds (and crawlies and slitherers and flutterers and every other similarly colored critter) at the moment. There are a couple in the backlog, but running a bit short on processing time thanks to June lurking just on the other side of the weekend. Think of it as an early Christmas with the addition of this super bright red feathered bulb.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

I can tell you there is absolutely no shortage of Scarlet Tanagers hanging out at Dauphin during the April migration. They were quite prominent at every birding spot we managed to hit while down there. The first couple of shots and several of the ones at the end were taken at a place called Goat Trees

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Here’s a tricky quiz for you … why do you think they call this spot Goat Trees? I’ll give you a couple of minutes to ponder it – no cheating and looking it up in Google! 1 Mississippi, 2 Mississippi, 3 Mississippi, 4 Mississippi, 5 Mississippi…

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Okay, times up. Are you ready to check your answer!?! If you went with “they naturally grow in the shape of a Goat complete with antlers”… well, you are absolutely wrong – what the hell are drinking by the way. The correct answer is “because the local goats are said to have climbed the trees at night to stay safe from Alligators”. From what I can tell there were herds of wild goats that would gather in these upwards of 900 year old oak trees.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

In case you are wondering, this information mostly comes from Linda who did the legwork on the spot. It pretty much went like this.

Linda: I found a spot we should try birding
Me: Where is that
Linda: Goat Trees
Me: They have trees in the shapes of Goats?
Linda: No stupid, are you on drugs?, there are Goats IN the trees
Me: [blink][blink] Oh, I wonder if they have 6′ Rabbits?

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Turns out there aren’t any more Goats in the trees. I big let down I might add as I was already to post on them. What it did have was the absolute friendliest Scarlet Tanager greeter I have ever encountered. When we walked up to the entrance to this little four lot woods, I spotted this Scarlet wandering around in the tall grass across the street. I would never pass up an opportunity to tin one of these beautifully colored male songbirds.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Maybe it saw its reflection in the Beast’s glass, but it became quite enamored with us. Checking us out as it slowly walked up to the road. Then it walked out onto the road without even taking the time to look both ways. A couple on a Harley came roaring up with its stereo blaring. They fortunately saw me giving warning glances at the bird and stopped to allow it to cross. Assumed the blaring sound would startle it and take flight…nope.. just kept walking towards us.

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Huge sigh of relieve when it successfully “Froggered it” across the road. Slowly it continued is stroll to a nearby wooden fence. The entire time it stayed focused on us. Needless to say, my shutter was on constant flutter. Next thing I know the bird is posing for me… flipping its feathers back, seductive glances over it shoulders, shaking its tushie….

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Now that I look back at it, thinking it was trying to hit on my wife – BAD BIRDIE, VERY BAD BIRDIE! Then this Scarlet did this…

Scarlet Tanager found on Dauphin Island, AL in April 2021

Wait, “Linda are you seeing this or maybe I am on drugs ‘cuz that looks like a red Owl.” Response, “riiiiiggght, and I bet that tree looks like a Goat”. I looked back and the bird was gone. I think I might need more sleep hehehe.

Anyway, at least I have proof the bird did exist. The Goats.. now that still remains a mystery. I need to give you some interesting facts about this colorful bird before I call it a post. According to Cornell, these Tanagers often fall victim to those asshat Cowbirds and their brood parasite practices (link here). If a Cowbird manages to sneak past the Tanager defenses, it will discard one of the Tanager eggs and insert on of their own. Unable to tell the difference, the Tanagers are tricked into raising the imposter. For those not familiar with this practice, it can put a huge strain on the parents as the Cowbird chicks are significantly larger and harder to feed. When the males are not hitting on your wife or girlfriend, they prefer to hang out high in the tree canopy and make catcalls at any hot looking ladies that pass by. They do winter in South America and then migrate through the Southeast to their breeding grounds in the upper eastern states. The good news is I should have a good chance of getting one in the tin during the upcoming summer months.

Congrats to Ron for getting it checked off already. Stay tuned, I might have an idea on how to make up the ground he gained on me.

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