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The Scarlet Songbird

The most exciting bird to spot each Spring - no matter how many Springs have come before - is the male Scarlet Tanager.  It's always a wonder!  One might think that it could be confused with the male Northern Cardinal. In fact when I see a Cardinal in the spring I will often take a double look to be sure.   But then, you see it.   And you know immediately that this is no Northern Cardinal (even if it has been moved from the tanager family to the cardinal family)  How so? There is something about him that demands your attention. He absolutely screams scarlet!  It's stunning, and breathtaking in its literal sense.   By the end of May most of them have moved on a little farther north to breed. They prefer to be deep in the forest interior where they are less vulnerable to predators and cowbirds laying eggs in their nests. When we were birding on the tiny Gracey's Island in Sharbot Lake early this summer it was a beautiful surprise to hear one singing away above us!

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