Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Scarlet Tanagers and Post Park

Q & A time:

E-bird flagged my 2 Scarlet Tanagers at Post Park, but I saw two large, bright red birds with black wings.

For some reason there seems to be a lot of confusion about red birds at Post Park.

There are many male Vermilion Flycatchers on a normal day at the Post (though they tend to leave north Brewster Co. in the winter). Scarlet Tanagers - at any time of year - are VERY unlikely. Back color and presence/absence of an eye line should be noted, as well as behavior. Vermilions tend to like exposed perches, low branches, and are generally very active. Scarlet Tanagers tend to be secretive in their preference of upper/inner canopy levels and do not tend to be acrobatic in behavior.

Adult male Vermilion Flycatcher, Post Park / Fort Pena Colorado, April 2011.
Heidi Trudell

Apparently a lot of folks who are not familiar with the male Vermilion Flycatcher see the red/black and write it off as an unmistakable Scarlet Tanager. A quick view in flight leaves many questions unanswered, but every bird is worth double checking in a field guide just to be sure; all Scarlet Tanager reports from Post Park should be backed with photo documentation. Their normal range is well east of Brewster Co.

Here's the range for Scarlet Tanager, via allaboutbirds.org:

Here's Vermilion Flycatcher, via whatbird.com:

For more information about both species - ranges, plumages, vocalizations, etc:
Vermilion Flycatcher ID page from allaboutbirds.org
Scarlet Tanager ID page from allaboutbirds.org

A few other troublesome reddish birds at Post Park:
Northern Cardinals and Pyrrhuloxias at the Post. Always double check beak color.
Say's Phoebe and female Vermilion Flycatchers; head color and size are important!


  1. Wooly Plantain & other native plants -


  2. Apr. 9, 2011 – previous notes got eaten (as did 2 wooly plantain clumps near chicken coop; a new clump was found NW of pond)

    TWF 375 - Blue Gilia (spp?) – no white in center, just yellow; few behind 10
    TWF 385 – Silver-leaf Nightshade – abundant in SW corner

  3. TWF 203 – Indian Mallow (spp?) – near 9/10; flower like bastardia, leaves have scalloped edges though

    M/W p 131 – Sicklepod/James Rushpea ? – abundant (p. 177 TWF)