In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.— wikipedia says this quote is misattributed to Andy Warhol
30 October 2022
Two years ago, on 6 June 2020, Steve Gosser was birding at McConnell’s Mill when he heard a scarlet tanager singing but it didn’t look like one. Steve’s photos showed the bird to be a cross between a rose-breasted grosbeak and a scarlet tanager.
The next day ornithologists Bob Mulvihill and Steve Latta banded the bird and took blood samples for DNA testing. At top, Steve Gosser holds the bird before releasing him after banding while Bob dubbed the bird a “Scarlet Gosserbeak.” The bird was slightly famous when I blogged about him on 8 June 2020 at Who Is this Mystery Bird.
Mulvihill and Latta submitted the DNA samples for analysis and received an answer in February 2021 that the bird is indeed a hybrid of a rose-breasted grosbeak mother + scarlet tanager father. His scientific name is Pheucticus ludovicianus x Piranga olivacea (mother’s species listed first).
Toews, Rhinehart, Mulvihill, Gosser, Latta, et al submitted a paper about the bird. That’s when the hybrid’s real fame begins.
- 1 August 2022, their paper is published at the Wiley Online Library. Genetic confirmation of a hybrid between two highly divergent cardinalid species: A rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus) and a scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea)
- … silence for a while until …
- 10 October 2022, WESA FM: Researchers confirm a Western PA Birdwatcher’s Discovery, a New Songbird Hybrid
- 14 October 2022, Post-Gazette: Whose song is that grosbeak singing? Unique hybrid bird found in Lawrence County
- 16 October 2022, Ray Brown’s Talkin’ Birds podcast, discussed at timecode 10:20 in episode #905
- 25 October 2022, artwork on Reddit comparing the two species + hybrid
- 25 October 2022, USA Today: Meet the one-of-a-kind ‘tanabeak’: Researchers identify new songbird hybrid in Pennsylvania
- 26 October 2022, NPR: He Had His Father’s Voice: Tracking A Rare Bird Hybrid
There are probably more articles since I last checked. This hybrid is world-famous for a lot more than 15 minutes!
(photos by Steve Gosser, phylogeny diagram from Wikipedia; click on the caption to see the original)