March 28, 2004 [LINK]

Western tangager That mysterious yellow bird paid us a return visit early this morning, and this time I got good enough looks and photos to confirm that it was indeed a Western tanager. That species has never before seen in either Augusta or Rockingham County! Brenda Tekin and Gordy Adamski came by later, and after a long, agonizing vigil we were finally rewarded with several return appearances, enabling us to get some more video and photos. In the adjacent photo, you can clearly see the wing bars, indented tail, and yellow rump, which are all distinctive field marks of the western tanager. To see a frontal view, which shows more color, roll the mouse over the image. I also got some video of a yellow-bellied sapsucker and a chipping sparrow this morning; the latter species has only migrated north to these parts of Virginia during the last few days or so. We also saw several purple finches flying all around, and robins, goldfinches, cardinals, and chickadees were all singing raucously. Brenda will be posting the far-superior images she took on her Web site shortly:

Later YuLee Larner came by, and after a long wait, she got some great sun-lit looks at the western tanager as well. With any luck, I'll get another chance to take a photo of the bird in full sunlight this afternoon. Or maybe not: I just heard a small bird scream right outside my office window, and ran to the back door in time to catch a glimpse of a Cooper's hawk flying away, only a few feet from our back porch.

With any luck, I'll get the next batch of photos from Peru posted later today. Eastern phoebes, chipping sparrows, and tree swallows have all been seen in recent days, more signs that spring is really here!