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Birds of North America, Vagrant Visitors, Introduced Birds and Possibilities

Summer Tanager

Piranga vermillon

Piranga rubra

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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 as such. Their diet, like most tanagers, consist of bees and other types of insects, sometimes seen at birdfeeders, attracted by fruits and/or a 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, perfectly adapted for capturing and eating bees, wasps and hornets. The Summer Tanager has no crest, and a brighter red plumage which separates 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, 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
B L W W W Family Latin Name
7.75" 19.7cm 12" 30.5cm 1oz 28.4g Cardinalidae Piranga rubra

  • Summer
  • Year Around
  • Winter

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

References to Other Bird Sites:

Avibase - the world bird database

ABA - American Birding Association

AOS - The American Ornitholgy Society

ABC - American Bird Conservancy

eBird - TheCornellLab of Ornithology

NA - National Geographic

NAC - National Audubon Society

Classic Collection of North American Birds