Monday, May 14, 2007

Summer Tanager in Central Park (NYC)

This Summer Tanager was highly cooperative in Central Park on May 13th 2007 - seen at eye level multiple times and also on the ground. The bird appeared to be in molt - the uppertail coverts in particular were both a deep red and also not lying flat. Closer inspection of the photos reveals that one central retrix (R1) was fresh and probably still growing, as well as one or two innermost tertials. The rest of the tail feathers were relatively abraded, as you'd expect. I've decided that this is probably a first spring male, from a combination of factors: the deep red of the undertail and uppertail coverts, the replacement of that central retrix (just the one, although conceivably this could be from damage) and the relatively pointed outermost primaries. Most passerines do not replace their flight feathers (incl. tail feathers) in the pre-alternate molt, although apparently this sometimes happens in hatch year birds (as per Pyle - Identification Guide to North American Birds). Click here for pics.

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