A Western Tanager Found The Suet Bar

By Heather / July 15, 2020
Western Tanager

As I was sitting at my desk this morning I took a moment to look out the window and to my amazement a male western tanager landed on the suet.

I quickly grabbed my camera (which I keep by my desk for just these occasions) and quickly snapped a couple of photos through the window.

But of course… as most photos that are shot through a window, they were a little blurry and not a quality picture that I would want to share with you.

Figuring that if he came once that he might just come again I took the camera and the tripod outside to a little blind I have set up on the deck.

This was at 8:15 am and the sun wasn’t yet on the bird feeders in the yard so I knew it was going to be a low light situation.

My blind consists of some camouflage netting hung over a curtain rod that is suspended between a beam and a window frame.

There is just enough room to have a chair and through a split in the netting, I can fit the telephoto lens while keeping the camera inside so the birds can’t see my hands moving.

I put a couple of clothespins above and below the lens to keep the netting shut.

Makeshift, but it works.

The birds just ignore me and I can see through the netting.

That was until the sun started to peek through the trees.

It shone directly into my little blind and in fact, blinded me.

I couldn’t see if there was a bird at the suet feeder or any of the feeders or trees.

All I could do was keep my fingers crossed that the sun would rise quickly and that the Western tanager didn’t make its appearance at that moment.

Finding that I could see if I pulled the netting aside just a little, leaned sideways and poke one eyeball out.

This allowed me to see any birds flying in and I would just have to hope that my camera was pointing at the suet feeder because I just couldn’t see through the lens.

As luck would have it, the tanager only appeared once while the sun was in this position and it landed on a branch and then just as quickly left again.

Now I’m even more hopeful that it will return.

The sun finally eased its way to a more favourable position in the sky and I was able to see again.

I watched as the regular yard birds flew in for breakfast.

The flicker family brought their baby who is as big as the parents but still demanding to be fed.

A pair of downy woodpeckers came to the suet bar, one on each side and then flew over to a tree to clean off their beaks.

Birds came and went but not the one I was looking for.

Then I spotted him on a branch where he sat very still and looked around for possible danger.

Then he flew to another bush and another and all the while I snapped photos.

At this point, he was still in the shadow which wasn’t ideal for pictures so I held my breath as he slowly made the rounds of the yard and finally found the sun.

The camera was doing double time as I shot frame after frame.

The last time I had seen a western tanager was at Lizard Lake at least 10 years ago when I had a little point and shoot camera.

So I was hoping for a better picture this time around.

He obliged by posing in his brilliant suit of orange, yellow and black to my delight.

Finally arriving at the suet feeder he ate his fill and off he flew.

Leaving my little corner of the deck I came inside to finish my breakfast which I had left on the desk only to discover that it was now 10:30 am.

Time sure flies when you’re having fun!


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