Thursday, May 24, 2018

Waiting on the Tanagers

Since purchasing our Littleton, Colorado, farm almost three decades ago, western tanagers have never failed to visit the property in mid May.  Indeed the appearance of those colorful migrants is one of the highlights of nature's year.  So where are the buggers this spring?

Summer residents of the upper foothills and lower mountain forests, western tanagers winter in the Tropics.  They are primarily insectivores, gleaning their prey from foliage or flycatching from the top of trees; tanagers also consume berries and often invade our mulberry trees if the fruit has ripened when they visit.

Well, we have plenty of insects and the mulberries are close to being edible but the tanagers have not yet arrived.  We birders pride ourselves in knowing a good deal about the behavior and migration patterns of our quarry but nature is fickle and the birds are not here to entertain us.  Our farm is surely an attractive rest stop for the migrating tanagers but so are many other locations along the Front Range.  If I were not leaving town in two days, I'd probably be more patient.