Scarlet Tanager Piranga olivacea
Sound (176 KB)
7 inches (18 cm)
• Male: scarlet red head and body
• Black wings and tail
• Female: Yellowish below, greenish above
• Pointed, but fairly stout bill
• Inhabits treetops
Adult male breeding:
• Brilliant scarlet red plumage
• Shiny black wings and tail
• Plumage held in Spring and Summer
• Yellow underparts
• Olive back
• Gray wings and tail with greenish feather edges
• Nonbreeding and immature plumages similar to female but males often have blacker wings and tails
• The male Scarlet Tanager is striking and easily identified. Male Hepatic and Summer Tanagers are entirely red. Female plumages can be told from similar female Summer Tanager by plain yellow, not orange-yellow, underparts. Female Western Tanager has wing bars. Female Hepatic Tanager has more orange underparts and a darker cheek.
NESTING & FEEDING:
BREEDING: Deciduous forest and woodland, mixed deciduous-coniferous forest. 1 brood. Mating system is monogamous.
DISPLAYS: Courtship: male hops about on low perches, spreads wings and displays his back to female perched above.
NEST: On horizontal branch, well out from trunk, 20-30 feet above ground; loosely built of grass, rootlets, forbs, twigs, lined with fine grass, forbs, rootlets. Female selects site and builds nest. Built in 2-7 days.
EGGS: 4 (2-5) Bluish, greenish, marked with browns, often wreathed. 0.9" (23 mm).
CHICK DEVELOPMENT: Female incubates. Incubation takes 13-14 days. Development is altricial (immobile, downless, eyes closed, fed). Young leave the nest after 9-11 days. Both sexes tend young.
DIET: Including few other terrestrial invertebrates. Young fed insects, few berries. Also gleans from bark.
CONSERVATION: Winters from Panama and Colombia s, e of Andes, to n w Bolivia, in variety of forest, woodland, and scrub. Common cowbird host; adults recognize female cowbird as enemy.
NOTES: Where range overlaps with Summer Tanager, the two species respond aggressively to each other's songs and countersing; coexist by partial habitat shift maintained by interspecific aggression. Male occasionally feeds incubating female. Female broods for about 3 days, and in cold and rain. Females tend to forage higher than males; females forage by hawking far more than do males. No apparent dialects in advertising song.
Piranga olivacea SCARLET TANAGER. Deciduous forest, woodland, parks. From e N. Dakota, se Manitoba, w,s Ontario, sw Quebec, Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia s to e Nebraska, e,c Kansas, e Oklahoma, c Arkansas, wc Tennessee, ec Mississippi, n,c Alabama, n Georgia, nw S. Carolina, N. Carolina. Winters in Panama and w South America s to Bolivia. Vagrant to California. A few hybrids with P. ludoviciana are known.