SWANTON — The Oak Openings Metropark and its surrounding area is home to some rare plant life and birds. Two of the park’s unusual birds are the summer tanager and the blue grosbeak. Both are usually found in the U.S.’s southern states. First, let’s get to the summer tanager. We’ll focus on the blue grosbeak next week.
According to Audubon.org, the summer tanager has a northern common breeding range that extends into the southern tip of Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and the extreme southwest corner of Pennsylvania, as well as the middle to southern half of Missouri and the southeastern corner of Kansas. But the bird has been spotted in Oak Openings for several summers now.
The male summer tanager is a uniform cardinal red, while the female is uniformly mustard yellow. The bird is about 6.7 inches in length and has a wingspan of 11-12 inches.
The summer tanager, according to allaboutbirds.com, “breeds near gaps and edges of open forests, particularly of deciduous trees or mixed pine-oak woodlands. The bird eats berries and insects and has a special affinity for bees and wasps. Birdsandblooms.com says that the summer tanager has a special way of dealing with their stingers, rubbing it on a branch in order to remove the stinger.
Matt Anderson, past president of the Toledo Naturalist and one of the authors of “Birds of the Toledo Area,” states that the summer tanager is quite common in Oak Openings and its surrounding areas.
“Oak Openings Preserve is their stronghold, but they are sprinkled throughout the Oak Openings Region as breeders,” Anderson said. “I’d go so far as to say Oak Openings Metropark is one of the best spots in the state of Ohio to find them. I spend lots of time birding the Oak Openings Region during the breeding season. In 2017, when I last had time to do pretty thorough coverage, I found 19 singing males, and I’m sure I missed some.”
Anderson has a reason why the Summer Tanager, though supposedly out of its range, is fairly common in Oak Openings.
“They clearly thrive in oak savannah habitat, and the Metroparks have actively managed to increase that habitat over the years. Summer tanagers are considerably more common now in Oak Openings than was the case 10-15 years ago. I have no doubt that Summer Tanagers nest annually (in Oak Openings).”
Ban on Baiting and Feeding Deer: Believed that it is linked to chronic waste disease, Michigan state regulators are continuing with a ban in the Lower Peninsula, on bating and feeding deer.
The fatal illness disease was first found in May 2015, in a Michigan free-ranging deer. Since that time, there have been 120 confirmed deer deaths in nine Michigan counties, linked directly to chronic waste disease.
Under another rule, scents used to attract deer must be placed in an area where the deer cannot touch or eat them.
Baiting and feeding will be allowed in the majority of the Upper Peninsula, excluding an area where chronic waste disease was discovered last year. The areas where baiting and feeding will not be allowed includes portions of the counties of Menominee, Delta and Dickinson.