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Shawna Thompson — February 09, 08:39PM

Why would a Scarlet Tanager in breeding plumage be in Schenectady NY in February?

I found the body of a male Scarlet Tanager on the side of the road by my house on Feb. 4, 2018. The feathers are in good shape, so there is no evidence that the body has been out in the elements all this time. He has his summer plumage: red body, black wings and tail. There were heavy winds all day long the day before he was found. If, for some reason, he has been kept indoors (as a pet??) would that keep him from molting from breeding plumage to the yellowish/green winter plumage? This is quite a mystery and I am hoping for some insight.

Karl Curtis — February 10, 07:04PM

Know that it is illegal to possess the bird without proper permits. You may want to contact The NYS DEC wildlife lab in Delmar, NY or SUNY Cobleskill and ask for Kevin Berner, a longtime bird expert. In the meantime keep it in a plastic bag in the freezer.

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Shawna Thompson — February 11, 12:29PM

Thanks for the info Karl. is it illegal to have the bird in my freezer, or did you mean illegal to keep as a pet? I will call contact Kevin Berner on Monday.

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Karl Curtis — February 11, 05:55PM

Technically, not legal to have it, period. However if you contact someone who has proper permits to have specimens for research in a timely manner, then the odds of being fried are low.

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Shawna Thompson — February 11, 11:33PM

Thanks again. I will call in the morning!

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