Harrison State Park. I find Ft Harrison to be one of my favorite places to bird in Central Indiana. The birding is good, but the setting and scenery are even better as one can enjoy trails meandering along the beautiful Fall Creek.
While leading this hike, I noticed a certain bird that had landed just above eye level some 40-50 feet away. The bird was in very bad light, silhouetted against a bright background so I couldn’t get a quick ID. Plus my primary focus, along with that of another birder, was at a beautiful blue bunting that was perched in very good light and singing its heart out.
I did a double take on this silhouetted bird though. There was just something about the “GISS” of this bird that compelled me to invest a longer look. (“GISS” is a term you’ll possibly hear some birders use. It stands for General Impression, Size and Shape). Good investment: it was a “nemesis bird”.
The bird that stands out most for me over my last month’s birdwatching is the Summer Tanager.
All of us birders seem to have “nemesis birds”. These are certain birds that, usually due to circumstance and happenstance, certain birders just have a hard time catching sight of. I remember reading a book called, “To See Every Bird on Earth”. This book was about “Big Listers”. Big Listers are people who take their birding very, very seriously. Even these folks had “nemesis birds” they’d speak of.
So it’s with a certain amount of excitement that I mention Summer Tanager as the BOTM.
Summer Tanagers are arguably one of the most beautiful birds that we get in Indiana. The adult males are the only “entirely” red bird that you will see in all of North America. (Even our state bird, the Northern Cardinal, often affectionately called “The Red Bird”, has a black face.)
Like many of the birds that spend the breeding season in our state, Summer Tanagers migrate a very long distance. They have arrived from Central and South America to nest and raise their young.
Summer Tanagers are also known as the “Beebird” because their diet relies heavily on bees. They are actually able to catch bees and wasps in mid-flight: flycatcher style. Being known as a specialist at eating bees and wasps probably makes them beloved by most folks. (I’m not sure about a beekeeper’s attitude about this bird though.)
“Nemesis: a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent”. I have a few other nemesis birds. I think I’ll be trying for them over the next month.