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Merlin Bird ID

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    Summer Tanager

    ID Info
    Silhouette CardinalsCardinals

    Summer Tanager

    Piranga rubra
    • ORDER: Passeriformes
    • FAMILY: Cardinalidae
    Basic Description

    The only completely red bird in North America, the strawberry-colored male Summer Tanager is an eye-catching sight against the green leaves of the forest canopy. The mustard-yellow female is harder to spot, though both sexes have a very distinctive chuckling call note. Fairly common during the summer, these birds migrate as far as the middle of South America each winter. All year long they specialize in catching bees and wasps on the wing, somehow avoiding being stung by their catches.

    More ID Info
    image of range map for Summer TanagerRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

    Find This Bird

    For such a bright-red bird, Summer Tanagers can be hard to see in the tops of leafy green trees. As with many forest songbirds, the best way to find them is to listen, both for the robin-like song and for their very distinctive, muttering pit-ti-tuck call note. Look for them in open woodlands (particularly of oaks and other deciduous trees) where they are usually in the mid-canopy and above.

    Other Names
    • Piranga Roja (Spanish)
    • Piranga vermillon (French)

    Backyard Tips

    Although Summer Tanagers mostly eat bees and wasps, they may also forage on backyard berry bushes and fruit trees near their forest habitat.

    • Cool Facts