Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)

male scarlet tanager
Male Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanagers (Piranga olivacea) are are brilliantly colored North American birds. The males have red bodies with black wings and tail. They are the only birds in North America with this coloration.

Female scarlet tanagers are not red. Instead the females have olive-green or yellowish bodies with mostly black wings and tail

Immature males look similarly to females. During the winter, male scarlet tanagers lose their red coloration and also look similar in color to females.

During the summer they are most often found in woody areas and forests in the northern part of the United States. During the winter they migrate to South America.

This species breeds during the summer in the Northeast US. Their diet consists mostly of insects, seeds, and fruit. See the photo below of a male scarlet tanager that was attracted to a Minnesota backyard by an orange.

male scarlet tanager eating an orange
Male Scarlet Tanager Eating an Orange

Due to the destruction of forests and woody areas, the scarlet tanager population is declining.