outdoorsJune 18, 2024
Spotting the rare summer tanager in Missouri's woods is a true delight. Discover how a chance encounter led to capturing stunning photos of this elusive, bee-eating songbird.
story image illustation
Courtesy of Aaron Horrell
Aaron Horrell
Aaron Horrell

A beautiful red bird landed on the limb of a dogwood tree only a few feet from my face. I was lucky to have my cellphone camera on and ready to snap a photo. The bird seemed surprised to see the camera and stared at it long enough for me to take several quick pictures.

This is a male summer tanager. In my opinion, this migratory bird is one of the prettiest songbirds to ever appear in Missouri’s woods. I took this photo on May 27.

Summer tanagers are birds that eat bees as well as lots of other insects. They are actually closely related to the northern cardinal.

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These birds are not often seen because they spend most of their time high up in tall trees.

More often than not, people who see summer tanagers flying from tree to tree will think they have seen a cardinal. Taking it slow while in nature is sometimes rewarding.

AARON HORRELL is owner of Painted Wren Art Gallery in Cape Girardeau. He is a Bollinger County native.

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