Breeding Bird Atlas 2 Additional Accounts


Summer Tanager

Piranga rubra

The Summer Red-bird, as this species is sometimes called, was deemed an accidental sighting whenever one was recorded during the nineteenth century in Massachusetts. Two storm-blown birds appeared in Lynn in 1852, and fourteen years later another was found at Swampscott. The following year, in 1867, still another was seen in Amherst, but then 29 years passed before one showed up in Watertown. In 1929 a virtual wave of them appeared in southeastern Massachusetts, from Cohasset to the Islands, just as the final volume of Edward Howe Forbush’s Birds of Massachusetts and Other New England States was going to press. Such incursions have always proved ephemeral, however, and have never resulted in Confirmation of breeding activity. Though a singing Summer Tanager appeared at Plum Island in June of 1974, no other evidence came to light in Atlas 1 to suggest that this bird’s expansion from its southern home had extended to the Bay State. As if to further test this possibility, a Probable occurrence of Summer Tanager breeding – a persistently singing male – was registered on Cape Cod during Atlas 2, but there was no further evidence of breeding.