|The brilliant Rose Tanager,
|"Encircled with poetic atmosphere,
As lark emballed by its own crystal song."
might be the fulfillment of the poets roseate dream, and the message that he bears a vocal incense from the flowers glowing heart.
But if the burden of the one-half of the tanager duet is "my love is like a red, red rose," the other half probably completes the flowery simile, with the proud refrain, "my love is like a green, green leaf," and when the time of the bloom of the rose is past and the rosy plumes, like petals, fall away, he stands revealed an olive calyx, attended as the season wanes by an assemblage of belated olivaceous buds, whose song and carmine tints are folded away to await the summons of the next years sun.
And when they return to us again in the full flower of their beauty from their southern home, gorgeous as if stained in the dyes of the tropic sun, their song is said to be suffused with color like the mellow tones of the rose-breasted grosbeak and oriole.
This song Nuttall describes as a strong and sonorous whistle like that of the Baltimore bird, "resembling the trill or musical shake on the fife, and is frequently repeated; while that of the female is chattering and is chiefly uttered in alarm when any person approaches the vicinity of the nest. From the similarity of her color to the foliage of the trees, she is rarely seen and is usually mute, while the loquacity and brilliancy of the male, as he flies timidly and wildly through the branches, render him a most distinguished and beautiful object."
Audubon pronounced the usual note of this bird as unmusical, resembling the sounds "chicky-chucky-chuck," which is not, indeed, suggestive of poetic inspiration on the part of this "poet-prophet of the spring," but the same author states that during the spring he sings pleasantly for nearly half an hour in succession, and that the song resembles that of the red-eyed vireo, his notes being sweeter and more varied and nearly equal to those of the orchard oriole.
Mr. Ridgway describes the song as somewhat after the style of the robin, but in a firmer tone and more continued, and, as compared with that of the scarlet tanager, with which be is often confounded, it is more vigorous and delivered in a manner less faltering. He describes the note of anxiety as a peculiar "pa-chip-it-tut-tut-tut," very different from the weaker cry of Pyranga rubra.
Mr. Chapman says the summer tanager may be easily identified, not alone by its color, but by its unique call note, a clearly enunciated "chicky-tucky-tuck." Its song bears a general resemblance to that of the scarlet, but to some ears is much sweeter, better sustained and more musical. According to some authorities it equals the robins in strength, but is uttered more hurriedly, is more "wiry" and much more continued.
Of the bird of Eastern North America Mr. Maynard says: "When the cold north winds cease to blow and the air in the piny woods is redolent with the perfume of the sundew, creeping mimosa and other delicate plants, which only bloom late in the spring, the voices of the summer tanagers are heard in the tops of the highest trees, when their songs are full of wild melody in perfect keeping with their surroundings. * * * So closely do they conceal themselves in the thick foliage that were it not for the loud song notes, which are constantly repeated, it would be difficult to discover them."