Birds of North America Home Page

Field Guide for all the Birds of North America

Scarlet Tanager

Piranga écarlate

Piranga olivacea

Information, images and range maps on over 1,000 birds of North America, including sub-species, vagrants, introduced birds and possibilities

Birds of North America
  • Birds of North America
  • Birds of North America
  • Birds of North America
  • Birds of North America
  • Birds of North America
  • Birds of North America

Life, Habitat & Pictures of North American Tanagers

B L W W W Family Latin Name
7" 17.8cm 11.5" 29.2cm 1oz 28.4g Cardinalidae Piranga olivacea

Species: The Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea), and more so the male, is one of the most beautiful birds seen in North America. This particular male tanager is recognized by its bright red head and body and is found throughout deciduous forests in the eastern regions of the continent. Their diet will include bees, other types of insects, and they sometimes show up at birdfeeders looking for fatty suet.

Distinctions: Sexually dimorphic, the male has a red head and body with black wings and tail. Sometimes the male may be seen with red epaulettes. The female is green and yellow, as is the juvenile in its first year. In late August, the male will molt, losing its red plumage, changing into a green and yellow plumage, although its wings and tail will remain black.

Voice: Repeated four note lyrics, usually sung from high in the crown of a tree.

Nesting: Three to four greenish coloured eggs, with brown spots. Usually builds its cup-shaped nest in a deciduous tree located in a forest. The Scarlet Tanager prefers large forested areas in order to reproduce.

North American Bird Calls

  1. Click to hear Choice 1
  2. Click to hear Choice 2

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter
range map

Distribution: Found throughout forested areas, from Nova Scotia to north of the Great Lakes, as far as western Saskatchewan, down into southern Oklahoma, east to South Carolina and the Atlantic coast. Being neotropical, the tanager spends its winter months in South America.

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database This site provides the user with a complete list of bird species, broken down per country, or in the example of the US or Canada, per state and province. Here, bird species names are available in other languages, a great asset to be used as a translation of foreign bird names.

ABA - American Birding Association This site represents an organization that maintains official records of all birds species that have been proven to have been seen inside the perimeters of the North American Continent and the surrounding bodies of water. Regular revised versions are posted to keep the bird list current at all times. This is the list used by all serious birders over their lifetime. You may be aware of the movie called the "Big Year". It was with this list that all the competing birders used in an attempt to set a new record as to how many bird species that could be seen by an individual birder in one calendar year.

I hope you will take advantage of these suggested websites. I have used each of them, in one way or another, throughout the years in my quest to better identify and understand our fine feathered friends.

Classic Collection of North American Birds