Bird Bio: Summer & Scarlet Tanager

Sightings of spring migratory birds continue to pour in and the action will continue for another few weeks before settling down.  Customers have seen fair numbers of Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Indigo Buntings at feeders, and other beautiful birds at birdbaths, like the Summer and Scarlet Tanager.

Male Summer Tanager

Female Summer Tanager

Summer Tanagers  are a common summer resident in middle-Tennessee, arriving around mid-April and staying until early October. Males are rose red with a pale, ivory bill.  Females are mustard yellow below, sometimes flushed with orange.  Young males have a more female appearance but may have patches of red.  Their song is robin-like, and their call is a staccato “pik-i-tuk-i-tuck”.  To hear the call of the Summer, or Scarlet Tanager, or any bird in North America, visit allaboutbirds.org and enter the name in the search bar.   You will then see a species profile of the birds with audio recordings.  Just click on the “play song” button.


Male Scarlet Tanager 

Female Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanagers, too, are a common summer resident. Males possess a stunning scarlet red plumage with black wings and tail.  Females are greenish above, yellowish below.  Listen for the very distinguishable “chip-burr” call which at times is repeated over and over.

These are not birds you would typically see at a birdfeeder, although, some people will see them come to meal worms, or fruit and jelly, or a birdbath.  They are primarily insects and fruit eaters.  A Kingston Springs customer recently showed me a picture of a young male Summer Tanager at a feeder filled with our Woodland Blend.  No doubt it was taking advantage of the shelled sunflower and/or shelled peanuts.