Sunday, November 11, 2012

Hepatic Tanager in Saskatchewan

A week or so ago, a strange bird was noticed at a feeder in Wadena, SK.  The residents took a photo and emailed it to a more nature-oriented friend, who passed it along to some other people and so on and so on.

Yes, it was a tanager, but definitely not a Scarlet Tanager.  A Summer Tanager, quite late in leaving the Northern Prairies, where a few are seen each year?  Well, no, it looked more like, well, er, dare one say it...a Hepatic Tanager...

A couple of my birder friends from Saskatoon dashed off to Wadena to have a personal look.  And, after confirmation from expert birders.....

Hepatic Tanager  (Piranga flava)!  

And I was on the road to Wadena by 5:00 a.m. the next morning.  

This is a First for Saskatchewan and only the second one sighted in Canada.

You see, this bird simply should not be anywhere north of say, Northern Arizona, Northern New Mexico. (See the range map below). This young fellow is a long way from home territory.  

Cool Facts from All About Birds
  • Although the Hepatic Tanager has the most restricted range of the four tanagers in the United States, in fact it is the most widespread member of its genus. It breeds from the southwestern United States southward all the way to Argentina.  
  • The Hepatic Tanager may include three different species: the Hepatic Tanager, found from the United States southward to Nicaragua; the Tooth-billed Tanager, found from Costa Rica to northern South America; and the Red Tanager of          eastern and southeastern South America. The two southern forms lack the       dusky ear coverts of the  northern form.                                                                      
  • The Hepatic Tanager has been little studied. As of 2002, only 106 had been banded in the United States, and only one banded bird had ever been recovered.

 Range Map (from All About Birds

Hepatic Tanager Range Map

Unfortunately, a snowy, cold winter storm system is passing through the area.  I haven't heard today whether the bird has survived.  Bottom line is that there is no way this little fellow will stay alive throughout our winter, which has only begun. 


  1. So amazing! Great that you got to see the handsome fella! Poor thing.

  2. What a handsome fellow. I wish him the very best in survival skills.

  3. What a handsome fellow. I wish him the very best in survival skills.

    1. Birders are trekking over to Wadena to see this bird. He is now being supplied with a diet of mealworms. A birder from Nova Scotia flew over to S'toon on the weekend and went out to Wadena with some local birders.

  4. Stunning and gorgeous. I might driven up there for that one...:)