Bird of the Week: Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

The Summer Tanager is our only completely red bird, making it easy to distinguish. However, it tends to spend most of its time high in the canopy of open woodlands, especially oaks, looking for flying insects, so it can be tricky to spot. Much easier to recognize is its song, a sweet and flowing whistle similar to the American Robin. Summer tanagers breed in North America but may winter as far south as Peru, flying over the Gulf of Mexico to reach their wintering grounds. This means that they bulk up significantly before starting their migration–tanagers captured in South America have arrived with enough fat to fly hundreds of miles further! Bees and wasps are their preferred food source, which they scrape against trees to remove the stinger before eating. Enjoy these beautiful birds while you can; by September, they will have begun their long journey south.

Compiled by Owen Moorhead. Sources include the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society.