There are just a few local records for the species. Two for Mecklenburg County, and at least one record each for Lancaster, Union, and Cabarrus counties. The adult males are stunning, and sure to attract the attention of even the most casual feeder watcher. Females are more nondescript but would most likely resemble nothing else that has visited a feeder. As I wrote recently, now is the time to look for odd feeder birds, especially during cold or stormy weather.
There are only about five Mecklenburg records, and this was the first in about a decade. Finding this most recent bird took me all the way back to December 1982 when I saw the first-county record AND the first rare bird I ever saw in Mecklenburg County.
When I say lucky, I mean it. I was about ready to depart the area when a flock of sparrows flew in from a mowed field. I turned around and walked back to check them out, sparrow junky that I am. That doesn’t pay big dividends very often but when it does, it makes all the other turn-around searches worth it.
The Western tanager and the lark sparrow both generated high interest from the local birding community. A steady stream of birders successfully chased both for a couple of weeks. For many, both were county-firsts for their Mecklenburg Lists. Hopefully there will be more excitement as we enter mid-to-late winter. Keep an eye on those feeders and let me know what you are seeing.