Jun 14 2011
While there I took long walks in Windsor Castle Park, a beautiful park with new boardwalks easily accessible from the historic downtown.
The park has a variety of good habitat for birding: woodlands, fields and saltmarsh. At low tide thousands of small crabs crawl the muddy banks of the saltmarsh, looking for food and becoming food themselves. There’s a heron rookery near the Cypress Creek overlook where the “baby” herons are now nearly as tall as their parents and quite loud when they’re hungry. I bet they eat crab for dinner.
I was happy to see many species that I never see in Pittsburgh including laughing gulls, royal terns and black vultures but the best birds by far were the summer tanagers.
The summer tanager (Piranga rubra) is a bird of southern forests. They do nest in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania but you have to go out of your way to find them. At Smithfield I could hear them singing and a pair even came down to see me!
The male is all red and the female all yellow-green. They have larger, longer beaks than scarlet tanagers and their head feathers stand up a little, giving them a Jimmy Durante look. (Their back feathers don’t stand up. The bird in this photo has a feather out of place.)
They’re famous for eating bees and wasps and will even take the grubs out of wasp nests. (Brave!) They winter in Central and South America where they eat fruit as well.
(photo taken in Manizales, Columbia by Julian Londono. Image is from Wikimedia Commons licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 2.0. Click on the photo to see the original.)