Scarlet Tanager Recovery (November 27, 2001)

We received a report on Tuesday, November 27, 2001, that a Scarlet Tanager we banded previously had been recovered this spring near Freeport, Texas. This is only our second recovery of a Scarlet Tanager and our first recovery of any bird from the Gulf Coast of Texas, but these facts alone didn't make this recovery the highlight of our week. Read on . . . .

On May 22, 2001, Ms. Gladys Nipper found a brightly colored dead bird in her yard with a band on its leg. She did not know what the bird was, but she felt sure that her find was important, so she called everyone she knew who knew anything about birds. Thanks to her persistence (it took her several days), she finally got the phone number (apparently, through someone at her local County Courthouse!) of the Bird Banding Laboratory in Maryland and, after two tries, she finally spoke with someone who could give her the instructions she needed in order to send the band in for confirmation.

This week we all learned that the banded Scarlet Tanager she found dead in her yard this spring had been banded here at Powdermill as a second-year male on June 21 . . .


Although it was banded during the breeding season, and presumably nested in our vicinity year after year, #1431-47680 was never recaptured at Powdermill. Assuming a June hatching date (in 1989), #1431-47680 was just a couple weeks shy of 12 years of age when it died of unknown causes in an Oyster Creek, Texas backyard. This exceeds the currently posted national age record for the species (10 yrs., 1 mo.) by nearly two years.

It is remarkable to think that this one ounce songbird was making its twelfth trip back to its Pennsylvania breeding grounds, after wintering each year in South America, possibly as far away as Bolivia! Our sincere thanks to Ms. Gladys Nipper for taking the time and going to the trouble to report what she suspected from the start was an important find!

— by John Yuhaniak

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Mission of 3RBC

To gather in friendship, to enjoy the wonders of nature and to share our passion for birds!

© Photo Credits:
Sherron Lynch, Brian Shema, Chuck Tague