Scarlet TanagerPiranga olivacea

adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult male, nonbreeding
Lee Trott/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Rob Curtis/VIREO
adult female
Rolf Nussbaumer/VIREO
Scarlet Tanager
Scarlet Tanager

Family

Description

7 1/2" (19 cm). In breeding plumage, male brilliant scarlet with black wings and tail. In nonbreeding plumage, female and male olive green; male has black wings.

Voice

Song a hurried, burry, repetitive warble, somewhat like that of a robin. Call note an emphatic, nasal chip-bang.

Listen

dawn song
chick & chick-bree
song #2
sweet calls
dawn song
song #1
chick-bree & chick

Habitat

Chiefly mature woodlands, especially oak and pine.

Range

Breeds from extreme southeastern Canada to east-central United States. Winters in tropics.

Discussion

The brilliantly colored male Scarlet Tanager gleams in the sunlight but is often difficult to see in thick foliage, especially if the bird is motionless or moving slowly from branch to branch high up in the tree canopy. It is conspicuous only when perched on a dead tree limb or when feeding on the ground during a cold, rainy spell. During late summer or early autumn, some of the males may show a patchwork plumage of red and green as they undergo a molt to olive green, except for their wings and tails, which remain black throughout the winter.

Nesting

3 or 4 brown-spotted greenish eggs in a shallow nest of twigs and stems lined with grass and placed on a horizontal branch.

Similar Species

adult male

Hepatic Tanager

7-8" (18-20 cm). Male is a subdued orange-brick color, darker than Summer Tanager. Both sexes have dark bill and ear patch.

adult male, breeding

Western Tanager

6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Adult male has brilliant red head, bright yellow body, with black back, wings, and tail. 2 wing bars; smaller uppermost bar yellow, lower one white.

adult male, Eastern

Summer Tanager

7-8" (18-20 cm). Male solid rose-red with pale bill. Female pale olive green above, dull yellow below. Male Northern Cardinal has black face, conical red bill, and crest. See Hepatic Tanager.

adult male

Northern Cardinal

8-9" (20-23 cm). Male bright red with crest, black face, stout red bill. Female buff-brown tinged with red on crest, wings, and tail.

adult male

Vermilion Flycatcher

6" (15 cm). Male has brilliant scarlet crown and underparts, with dark brown back, wings, and tail; female similar to male above but white below with dark streaks.

Vireo

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