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#ABArare – Hepatic Tanager – Saskatchewan

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On November 2, a red tanager was first noticed to be visiting a feeder at the home of Faye and John Sundholm near Wadena, Saskatchewan.  The Sundholms, realizing that this was something very different, obtained small-file photos and distributed them out to local experts who initially identified the bird as a Summer Tanager, also a very good bird for the province.

Better quality photos soon confirmed, however, that the bird in question was a Hepatic Tanager, a first for the province and only the second record for Canada.  The bird is still present as of November 7.

Hepatic Tanager, SK

photo by Nick Saunders

Wadena is in southeast Sakatchewan, approximately three hours east of Saskatoon on SK-5 East.  Guy Wapple posted the following directions to the provincial listserv.

To find their house enter Wadena from the west along Hwy. 5. Take the THIRD LEFT (NORTH) turn which is 2ND ST.

Theirs is the 4th house on the LEFT (WEST), side of the street. It is just opposite the north end of the RCMP detachment building across the way.

The Sundholm residence has pale pink siding. You will not have any trouble finding it! There are several feeders are located in the front yard, so you can observe them from the shelter of your vehicle. The bird likes to visit a horizontal suet/seed cake feeder a couple of metres off the ground in the middle of the tree.

The Sundholms are open to visitors and ask only that birders coming to see the tanager respect their property.  Contact information is available on the initial post to the listserv.

While Hepatic Tanager has the most retricted range of the four Piranga tanagers in the ABA Area, it is wide-ranging across the hemisphere, breeding as far south as northern Argentina. It has three subspecies, considered by many to be distinct species in their own right.

It has a limited history of vagrancy, occuring semi-annually up the California coast and in Colorado.  Other records include Oklahoma (2009), Illinois (1981, 2010), Wyoming (2001), and Louisiana (several).  The previous record from Canada is probably the most remarkable, however; an female in Montreal, Quebec, that stayed for two days in May of 1993.

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Nate Swick

Nate Swick

Editor, Social Media Manager at American Birding Association
Nate Swick is the editor of the American Birding Association Blog, social media manager for the ABA, and the host of the American Birding Podcast. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Danielle, and two young children. He is the author of Birding for the Curious and The ABA Field Guide to Birds of the Carolinas.
Nate Swick

Latest posts by Nate Swick (see all)

  • Nate – Where did you find the Hepatic Tanager record for Idaho? That would be new to us here in Idaho! thanks, Charles. (I did find a 2010 record for IL)

  • My mistake, I found it here: http://boisecitynews2.files.wordpress.com/2009/09/july_2_09_front-pg.pdf

    I see now that this is an Oklahoma record rather than an Idaho one.

    Thanks for pointing it out.

  • Phew, that good news. A bunch of Idaho birders would have been disappointed to learn they had missed that. Didn’t realize there was a Boise city in Oklahoma.

  • Beautiful bird that, to me, looks similar to a Purple Finch. It must be all the red on its body that distinguishes its identity. Learning more and more each day. Thanks for the pic.

  • Gertude

    I just saw two here in Montreal, which is why I’m on the net trying to figure out what they are. I didn’t know it was such a rare sighting!

  • Gertude

    It’s larger than a finch, more like a size of a blackbird.

  • In Quebec, it’s most likely that you’re seeing Scarlet Tanagers rather than Hepatic.

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