Comments: Eats insects and other invertebrates, and various fruits; diet includes moths, bees, caterpillars, larvae of gall insects, wood- and bark-boring beetles, click and leaf-eating beetles, crane flies, and all stages of gypsy moths, except the eggs. Nestlings are fed insects and fruit. Forages primarily at mid-canopy (6-18 m off the ground). Occasionally descends to the ground or ascends to the topmost tree branches. Searches for insects on leaves, twigs, and branches, examining the substrate in a leisurely fashion. Often picks at dense leaf clusters at the outer tips of limbs (Isler and Isler 1987). Also chases aerial insects (Bushman and Therres 1988). May feed on ground-dwelling prey (e.g., grasshoppers, ground beetles, earthworms) during periods of persistent rainfall and/or low temperatures when flying insects are inactive (Zumeta and Holmes 1978). These authors suggested that severe cases of inclement weather may contribute to a significant several-year reduction in local scarlet tanager breeding populations.
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