Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Scarlet Tanager


You can't miss a bird like this on a day like this during a spring like this! These sweet red pot of a bird with black wings and tail is a scarlet tanager. This is the first time I have seen this bird, ever! I was stunned into motionlessness when I spied it on my way back from garbage-picking by the shoreline. Of course, my camera is only mickey-mouse; I am 'making do', that is, deliberately trying not to consume more, not 'buy up', not go along with ...obsolete. If you want a technically perfect photo, you will have to visit other sites!

The scarlet tanager was hoping along the ground, pecking at the dried grasses, feeding on insects, right in the hummingbird haven. This jewelweed patch (also known as touch-me-nots) attracts late summer hummingbirds that stay until October. You can't tell from those dreary dried grasses but this will be a bed of golden jewelweed very soon.

Our region is the scarlet tanager's northernmost range so I count myself blessed to be gifted with his red beauty. This male scarlet tanager is wearing its spring coat to attract a mate. Scarlet Tanagers usually stay in the upper forest canopy except during cold, rainy spells....

and this morning was cold and windy. I was already lamenting that I hadn't tucked a pair of light gloves into my pockets before I'd even reached the creek. I bumped into a friend I hadn't seen in awhile and we talked about the history of this land. Her traditional territory is Dog Lake, but her ancestors were kicked off the land when the Superior-Robinson Treaty was made in 1850. There were other bands in the district besides them that were dismissively tagged as "stragglers" and they were told to go live on the Mission Reserve (now FWFN). Dog Lake today has crown land camping, an outstanding beach, and .... many cottages and camps of settlers who now own the land -- that is, according to how the land has became re-imagined through European colonization. One of my older Finnish lady friends, who I love dearly, has a camp on Dog Lake.

I believe the scarlet tanager crossed my path as a return for picking up garbage. Mother's Day morning I picked garbage, too. 3 bags full. And a packsack that I found and stuffed with garbage. May is Ecosuperior's Spring up to Clean up. Each spring for the last few years I clean the same shoreline and the slope just beneath the overpass; the lakeside of the guardrail. This is where a lot of birds, ducks, and geese cavort. The slope is very steep. The city does not clean this area of garbage ---ever. Folks who drive up to enjoy the view of Nanabijou and the harbour just open their windows on the way out over the overpass and toss their garbage to the birds.

2 comments:

susan mac said...

wow, I too believe that beautiful little bird was your gift - a grateful gem, a sweet reward for the care you take with our precious environment. I like to think of birds, especially sparrows, as a type of angel, reminders of the special beauty that is around us everywhere, everyday, when we take the time to see it (or listen) Beautiful pictures as always, no matter what you say of your camera, it seems to capture the magic that goes so well with your words.

northshorewoman said...

thanks, Susan. Sometimes I think the eye of my camera has an imperative all its own! Even I am surprised at times when I see what I saw. The land speaks. The birds speak. The water speaks. Recently, there have been a number of white crowned sparrows hanging about my yard; Katja also has seen a flock in her yard and got some amazing photos of them. These sparrows are so unique with their skunk-like heads, and they have the sweetest call. It's nice to think of sparrows as angels because there are a lot of sparrows so there must be a lot of angels to help us remember the beauty!