A medium-sized (7 inches) songbird, the male Scarlet Tanager is most easily identified by its bright red body, black wings, and black tail. Female Scarlet Tanagers are green above and dull yellow below with dark wings. Males of this species may be separated from male Summer Tanagers (Piranga rubra) by that species’ red wings and tail and from male Northern Cardinals (Cardinalis cardinalis) by that species’ black face and conspicuous crest, while females may be separated from female Summer Tanagers by that species’ paler back and darker breast. The Scarlet Tanager breeds across much of the northeastern United States and southern Canada south to Alabama and west to Nebraska. In winter, this species migrates to Panama and northern South America. Migrating Scarlet Tanagers may be seen in areas of the southeastern U.S. where this species does not breed. Scarlet Tanagers breed in a number of mature forest types, preferring larger areas of unbroken forest to smaller, more fragmented habitats. In winter, this species is found in a variety of dense humid tropical forests. Scarlet Tanagers primarily eat insects and spiders during the breeding season, but may eat fruits, berries, and earthworms at other times of the year or when insects are scarce. In appropriate habitat, Scarlet Tanagers may be seen foraging for insects on leaves and branches in the tree canopy, in undergrowth, or, more rarely, directly on the ground. Birdwatchers may also listen for this species’ song, a series of whistled notes recalling that of the American Robin. Scarlet Tanagers are most active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.
- Mowbray, Thomas B. 1999. Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/479
- Peterson, Roger Tory. Birds of Eastern and Central North America. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1980. Print.
- Piranga olivacea. Xeno-canto. Xeno-canto Foundation, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://xeno-canto.org/browse.php?query=Piranga+olivacea.
- Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea). The Internet Bird Collection. Lynx Edicions, n.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ibc.lynxeds.com/species/scarlet-tanager-piranga-olivacea.
- eBird Range Map - Scarlet Tanager. eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, N.d. Web. 20 July 2012. http://ebird.org/ebird/map/scatan.