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

Just Posted

Former Surrey mayor Bill Vogel dead at age 87

Vogel was Surrey’s 31st mayor, in the big chair from 1978 to 1980, and was alderman from 1973 to 1977

Champ Surrey wrestler looks to ‘threepeat’ at U SPORTS nationals in Calgary

Cloverdale’s Brad Hildenbrandt named male wrestler of year after Canada West title win

Police investigating after 14-year-old boy pepper sprayed at Surrey mall

Surrey RCMP say two males fled the scene before officers arrived on scene at Guildford Town Centre

Cloverdale nurse, Langley truck driver awarded for saving a police officer’s life

Angela Feltrin and Earl Hanes thanked by B.C. RCMP’s top cop

Police release list of 10 worst crash locations in Delta

Police say there was a 12-per-cent decrease in crashes from 2017 to 2018

VIDEO: Canada’s flag turns 54 today

The maple leaf design by George Stanley made its first appearance Feb. 15, 1965

North Delta happening: week of Feb. 14

Events, courses and clubs listings for North Delta

Judge rules Abbotsford home must be sold after son tries to evict mom

Mom to get back down payment and initial expenses

Mayors approve SkyTrain extension to UBC

Next step is a business plan and public consultation

Trump officially declares national emergency to build border wall

President plans to siphon billions from federal military construction and counterdrug efforts

Snow turns to slush, rain as it warms up across B.C.’s south coast

Some areas are already covered by more than half a metre of snow following three separate storms

Father to be charged with first-degree murder in Amber Alert case

11-year-old Riya Rajkumar was found dead in her father’s home in Brampton, Ontario

Police track armed kidnapping across Thompson-Okanagan

RCMP allege it was a targeted crime believed to be linked to the drug trade

St. Paul’s Hospital replacement slated to open in Vancouver in 2026

Announced many times, but this time there’s money, Adrian Dix says

Most Read