Rare summer tanager delights Vancouver bird watchers

It’s the first time that bird has been recorded in the Metro Vancouver area

Bird watchers are flocking to the Lower Mainland after a wayward summer tanager was spotted pecking at peanuts on a south Vancouver balcony over the weekend.

Saturday’s sighting was the first time a summer tanager has been recorded in the Metro Vancouver area, and only the sixth time for all B.C., said Melissa Hafting, who runs a rare bird blog.

“He’s bringing a lot of joy to birders in the area,” Hafting said in an email. “He has a small bill deformity but is eating very well.”

Summer tanagers typically winter from central Mexico to Bolivia and Brazil, and their summers are usually spent around the southeastern United States.

The juvenile male is likely off course thanks to reverse migration, a phenomenon where young birds migrate in the opposite direction thanks to what is believed to be faulty genetic programming, Hafting said.

The rare sight has attracted birders from as far away as Vancouver Island, Kelowna and Washington state, she added.

Photographs of the Vancouver visitor show a medium-sized songbird with brilliant yellow feathers and splashes of bright red around its face. The top section of its thick, stubby bill curves slightly to the left.

Wendy Kahle spotted the bird flitting about her balcony Saturday morning but didn’t immediately recognize it.

She said she posted a photo online asking for help identifying the species and within three minutes Hafting called her “super excited” to ask for permission to share the location with the birding community.

“I said, ‘Yes, sure. Come on down.’ I had absolutely no idea how rare it was and just how much excitement it brought with it,” Kahle said.

Since then, between five and 10 people have been outside her home at any given time admiring the tanager, she added.

“Everyone whom I spoke to was just thrilled and so thankful.”

Liron Gertsman, 17, was among the first to show up and photograph the tanager.

“It was eating peanuts that the lady who found it had put out on her balcony,” said the avid birder, who plans to study ornithology after he finishes high school. “It was even catching some insects. We watched it eat a couple wasps as well.”

He described the bird as stunning and said the sighting is likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It makes you feel really small in a way because this bird is in totally the wrong part of its range,” Gertsman said. “It makes it a really special thing to see a bird that is so rare in this part of the world.”

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Noisy train whistles to stay at Harrison Mills rail crossing

A majority of residents didn’t want to pay for part of the $390K replacement crossing

HOMEGROWN: Family traditions key to Agassiz dairy farm

Julaine and Johannes Treur are keeping family traditions alive at their organic dairy farm

Vancouver TheatreSports finishes off Harrison’s Season of Performing Arts

Vancovuer TheatreSports will be performing in Harrison on May 4

Job market to remain tight in coming years: report

Conference Board of Canada predicts region’s unemployment rate to remain below five per cent

Chilliwack driver busted with heroin after nodding off behind the wheel

29-year-old man from Vancouver facing possible charges

Harrison Mills band holding contest to decide name

The local cover band will be announcing the winner at a concert on May 3

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Woman, 60, charged in connection to thefts at YVR

RCMP believe the foreign national is part of a larger organized theft group

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Worst 10 bus routes in Metro Vancouver for rider complaints

TransLink releases list, with Route 319 at the top

Mayors, First Nations chiefs, urge ‘immediate action’ on new Massey crossing

Joint letter asks province to move up timeline, consider only eight-lane tunnel options

Bus driver assault in Vancouver once again raises safety concerns

A 49-year-old Surrey man was released on a promise to appear in court. No charge has been laid

Most Read