I’m not sure what’s going on with western birds showing up in Upstate New York lately, but after my successful Western Grebe chase and after Drew Weber’s successful Black-throated Gray Warbler chase, I figured 2013 was done producing birds from the other half of the country. You can imagine my surprise when this past Tuesday, a 1st year male Western Tanager was reported in the little town of Irving, NY, about 40 minutes south of Buffalo. Checking the eBird records, there haven’t been many Western Tanagers in upstate or western New York in the past 10 years. This was a really good bird for us.
Naturally, I went after this guy this morning. Reports on the bird had it coming into a suet feeder about every 15 to 45 minutes, and all visitors got great looks at this guy on Wednesday and said it was extremely cooperative. No one waited more than an hour for the bird. I got to the private residence at 9:50. It was last seen at 9:30. This should be a piece of cake . . . Flash forward 4 hours later, and I still hadn’t seen any sign of the tanager. I had groups of birders come and go in my span of being there, and my morale was at an all time low. I was pretty much calling it quits at 2 o’clock when lo and behold, Western Tanager shows up for 20 seconds and then bolts under duress from some Common Grackles. It was a major relief to finally get this bird, and it did return about 10 minutes later for an extended look. Unfortunately, the tanager was not as cooperative as previously reported for photos, but I managed to get a decent enough documentation shot. All in all, an excellent bird and an even better bird for New York. I should add that the owner of the property, Pauline, was extremely cooperative and friendly with the hordes of birders coming to her house. Many thanks.