Yesterday I spent some time in a quiet corner of Magnolia Plantation where pine forest and marshland come together. There is a small field that is kept mowed around a few scraggly trees, perfect for a Summer Tanager to hunt for bugs.
I watched this one flit back and forth in the higher tree branches until he took a break down closer to the ground.
Despite seeing Northern Cardinals pretty regularly, I found it a challenge to get a good image of one. This one surprised me landing over my head as I was watching warblers at ground level. He had a lot going for him: classic pose with his crest up, aligned to the sun for the catch light in his eye, his feathers tidy and uniformly colored and oh, yes, that red.
Most of the leaves had fallen off the tree where he perched giving me a clear view. Cardinals in our area tend to be quite skittish; this one didn’t seem to care that I was watching him.
It was easy to see this Blue Grosbeak flitting along in the grass of a roadside field, although I wasn’t sure what it was. I eased out of the car and was able to get an image with a clear view of his head.
Grosbeaks are in the Cardinalidae family along with Cardinals, Buntings and Tanagers, all identifiable by their prominent bill. The Blue Grosbeak is slightly larger than an Indigo Bunting and breeding males have chestnut wingbars.