Comments: Scarlet tanagers breed in deciduous forest and mature deciduous woodland, including deciduous and mixed swamp and floodplain forests and rich moist upland forests, often where oaks predominate (Bushman and Therres 1988), sometimes in wooded parks, orchards, and large shade trees of suburbs (Isler and Isler 1987, Senesac 1993), less often in mixed deciduous-coniferous forest (Hamel et al. 1982, Hamel 1992). They are most common in areas with a relatively closed canopy, a dense understory with a high diversity of shrubs, and scanty ground cover, and are able to breed successfully in relatively small patches of forest (Bushman and Therres 1988). Breeding occurs in various forest stages but is most frequent in mature woods (according to some sources, prefers pole stands). In New England, nesting occurs mainly in sawtimber hardwoods. Nests are placed in trees (commonly oaks), usually well out on limbs, 2-23 meters above ground. Typical nest site characteristics: 1) the nest is placed in a leaf cluster, or with at least several leaves shading the nest, 2) the nest is placed on a nearly horizontal tree branch, 3) there is a clear unobstructed view of the ground from the nest, and 4) there are flyways from adjacent trees to the nest (Senesac 1993).
During the northern winter, scarlet tanagers inhabit forest canopies and edges, including tall second growth (Isler and Isler 1987). Migrants may occur in more open habitats, such as woodlands, parks, and gardens, as well as forests (Isler and Isler 1987).