Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet tanager

2 languages
Kingdom
Phylum
Class
Family
Genus
SPECIES
Piranga olivacea
Population size
2.6 mln
Life Span
10 yrs
Weight
23-38 g
Length
16-19 cm
Wingspan
25-30 cm

The scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea ) is a medium-sized American songbird. Until recently, it was placed in the tanager family (Thraupidae), but it and other members of its genus are now classified as belonging to the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). The species' plumage and vocalizations are similar to other members of the cardinal family, although the Piranga species lacks the thick conical bill (well suited to seed and insect eating) that many cardinals possess. The species resides in thick deciduous woodlands and suburbs.

Di

Diurnal

Ca

Carnivore

In

Insectivores

Ar

Arboreal

Al

Altricial

Te

Terrestrial

Ov

Oviparous

Se

Serial monogamy

So

Social

Fl

Flocking

Mi

Migrating

S

starts with

Re

Red Animals
(collection)

Appearance

The Scarlet tanager is a medium-sized American songbird. Both the male and the female have pale, horn-colored, fairly stout, and smooth-textured bills. Adult males are crimson-red with black wings and tails. Females are yellowish on the underparts and olive on top, with yellow-olive-toned wings and tails. The adult male's winter plumage is similar to the female's, but the wings and tail remain darker.

Distribution

Geography

Scarlet tanagers breed across eastern North America and spend winter in northwestern South America, passing through Central America. These birds inhabit large stretches of deciduous forest, especially with oaks, across eastern North America. They can be found in young successional woodlands and occasionally in extensive plantings of shade trees in suburban areas, parks, and gardens. In winter, Scarlet tanagers occur in the montane forest of the Andean foothills.

Scarlet Tanager habitat map

Climate zones

Scarlet Tanager habitat map
Scarlet Tanager
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Habits and Lifestyle

Scarlet tanagers are social birds and outside of the breeding season they often join mixed foraging flocks. They are active during the day but often stay out of sight, foraging high in trees; they will sometimes fly out to catch insects in flight and then return to the same general perch, in a hunting style known as "sallying". This is a feeding strategy in which birds catch flying insects in the air. Sometimes, however, they also capture their prey on the forest floor. Scarlet tanagers migrate around April; they begin arriving in the breeding grounds in numbers by about May and already start to move south again in midsummer; by early October, they are all on their way south. The song of Scarlet tanagers sounds somewhat like a hoarser version of the American robin's and their call is an immediately distinctive 'chip-burr' or 'chip-churr'.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Scarlet tanagers are carnivores (insectivores). They eat mainly insects, such as bees, wasps, hornets, ants, and sawflies; moths and butterflies; beetles; flies; cicadas, leafhoppers, spittlebugs, treehoppers, plant lice, and scale insects; termites; grasshoppers and locusts; dragonflies; and dobsonflies. Scarlet tanagers also take snails, earthworms, spiders, and fruit when plentiful.

Mating Habits

MATING BEHAVIOR
INCUBATION PERIOD
11-14 days
INDEPENDENT AGE
2 weeks
BABY NAME
chick
web.animal_clutch_size
4 eggs

Scarlet tanagers are serially monogamous and form pairs that stay together for one breeding season. Males reach their breeding ground from mid-May to early June. Females generally arrive several days to a week later. Nest building and egg-laying both occur usually in less than two weeks after the adults arrive. The nest is a shallow open cup usually located on a horizontal tree branch among leaves. It’s made of twigs, rootlets, and weed stems and lined with fine grasses or pine needles. The clutch is usually 4 eggs that are a light blue in color, often with a slight greenish or whitish tinge. Incubation lasts for 11 to 14 days. The chicks are blind and helpless and weigh 3.97 g (0.140 oz) at hatching. They leave the nest by 9-12 days of age and fly capably by the time they are a few weeks old.

Population

Population threats

The numbers of Scarlet tanagers are declining due to exposure and starvation, especially when exceptionally cold or wet weather hits eastern North America and in some areas due to habitat fragmentation. Where forest fragmentation occurs, Scarlet tanagers suffer high rates of predation and brood parasitism. They often die from collisions with man-made objects including TV and radio towers, buildings, and cars.

Population number

According to Partners in Flight resource, the total breeding population size of the Scarlet tanager is around 2,600,000 individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • When capturing bees, wasps, and hornets Scarlet tanagers rake their prey against a branch to remove their stingers before consumption.
  • When threatened, Scarlet tanagers mob potential predators by diving and swooping around them and calling. However, when the potential predator is an American crow or marlin, tanagers become quiet and try to be inconspicuous.
  • The bill of the Scarlet tanager has a tooth-like structure that allows the bird to eat fruits and seeds.
  • Scarlet tanagers are able to eat 600 tent caterpillars in just 15 minutes.
  • When searching for insects, Scarlet tanagers may even walk vertically on tree trunks in order to probe the bark.

References

1. Scarlet Tanager on Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scarlet_tanager
2. Scarlet Tanager on The IUCN Red List site - https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22722466/94767758
3. Xeno-canto bird call - https://xeno-canto.org/691899

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