Rare summer tanager delights Vancouver bird watchers

It’s the first time that bird has been recorded in the Metro Vancouver area

Bird watchers are flocking to the Lower Mainland after a wayward summer tanager was spotted pecking at peanuts on a south Vancouver balcony over the weekend.

Saturday’s sighting was the first time a summer tanager has been recorded in the Metro Vancouver area, and only the sixth time for all B.C., said Melissa Hafting, who runs a rare bird blog.

“He’s bringing a lot of joy to birders in the area,” Hafting said in an email. “He has a small bill deformity but is eating very well.”

Summer tanagers typically winter from central Mexico to Bolivia and Brazil, and their summers are usually spent around the southeastern United States.

The juvenile male is likely off course thanks to reverse migration, a phenomenon where young birds migrate in the opposite direction thanks to what is believed to be faulty genetic programming, Hafting said.

The rare sight has attracted birders from as far away as Vancouver Island, Kelowna and Washington state, she added.

Photographs of the Vancouver visitor show a medium-sized songbird with brilliant yellow feathers and splashes of bright red around its face. The top section of its thick, stubby bill curves slightly to the left.

Wendy Kahle spotted the bird flitting about her balcony Saturday morning but didn’t immediately recognize it.

She said she posted a photo online asking for help identifying the species and within three minutes Hafting called her “super excited” to ask for permission to share the location with the birding community.

“I said, ‘Yes, sure. Come on down.’ I had absolutely no idea how rare it was and just how much excitement it brought with it,” Kahle said.

Since then, between five and 10 people have been outside her home at any given time admiring the tanager, she added.

“Everyone whom I spoke to was just thrilled and so thankful.”

Liron Gertsman, 17, was among the first to show up and photograph the tanager.

“It was eating peanuts that the lady who found it had put out on her balcony,” said the avid birder, who plans to study ornithology after he finishes high school. “It was even catching some insects. We watched it eat a couple wasps as well.”

He described the bird as stunning and said the sighting is likely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

“It makes you feel really small in a way because this bird is in totally the wrong part of its range,” Gertsman said. “It makes it a really special thing to see a bird that is so rare in this part of the world.”

Geordon Omand, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Aldergrove zoo to reopen next week with new COVID-19 safety measures: spokesperson

Reopening to be ushered in by words from Darryl Plecas, Legislative assembly Speaker

School speed limits in force in Langley

Langley RCMP are asking pedestrians and drivers to be cautious as school resumes

There’s still Hope After Stroke during COVID-19

Program facilitator remains available by phone

Hot rods parade by Langley hospital at seven o’clock for front line workers

Few dozen from BC Hot Rod Association paraded their cars in private show for staff and seniors

Anyone participating in virtual Langley Walk this weekend?

Residents have until Sunday, May 31 to complete annual 5K challenge

Only four new COVID-19 cases, 228 active across B.C.

Health officials watching as activities ramp up

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping the Aldergrove Star to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Feds looking at ways to reunite families amid COVID-19 border restrictions with U.S.

Some families with members of dual-citizenship have become separated due to the pandemic

Condition in kids with possible COVID-19 link being studied in Canada

This month, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an alert to doctors about MIS-C

‘I knew what he wanted’: Kootenay man spends hours in tree as black bear patrols below

Francis Levasseur is no stranger to the outdoors, but a recent run-in with a bear caused quite a scare

COVID cancelled their wedding plans, so they married on a BC mountaintop

Ceremony was live streamed to friends and family around the world

Trudeau acknowledges racial unrest in U.S.; ‘We also have work to do in Canada’

‘Anti-black racism, racism, is real; it’s in the United States, but it’s also in Canada,’ Trudeau says

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

Large cruise ships barred from Canadian waters until end of October: Garneau

Last year 140 cruise ships brought more than two million visitors to Canadian ports

Most Read