Birds of North America Home Page

Field Guide for all the Birds of North America

Summer Tanager

Piranga vermillon

Piranga rubra

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


Species: The Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) is seen across the southern regions of the USA. The beautiful male is recognized by its completely red body and is the only bird species in North America like this. Their diet, like most tanagers, consists of bees and other types of insects. They are sometimes seen at birdfeeders, attracted by fruit and/or fatty suet.

Distinctions: Sexually dimorphic, the male has a completely brilliant red body, retaining its red plumage throughout the year. The male tanager has a large yellow bill that is perfectly adapted for capturing and eating bees, wasps and hornets. The Summer Tanager has no crest and its brighter red plumage distinguishes it from the Northern Cardinal. The female has a light olive-coloured mantle, with a light coloured yellow breast. As in most cases, the juvenile is similar to the female's plumage in its first year.

Voice: Repeated three to seven notes lyrics, call consists of three notes that are easily recognizable, once seen and heard.

Nesting: Three to four blueish-green coloured eggs, with brown speckles, one brood per year. Builds its cup-shaped nest in deciduous trees or mixed forest.

Birds of North America
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Life, Habitat & Pictures of North American Tanagers

B L W W W Family Latin Name
7.75" 19.7cm 12" 30.5cm 1oz 28.4g Cardinalidae Piranga rubra

North American Bird Calls

  1. Click to hear Choice 1

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter
range map

Distribution: These tanagers are found throughout wooded areas. They are consistently seen in small numbers, along the southern borders of central Canada, with the odd reports in the eastern provinces of Canada, west into the central USA states, and a narrow band reaching into California and east to the tip of Florida.

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