Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager

Piranga rubra
Population size
12 mln
Life Span
4-6 yrs
29 g
17 cm
28-30 cm

The Summer tanager (Piranga rubra ) is a medium-sized American songbird. Formerly placed in the tanager family (Thraupidae), it and other members of its genus are now classified in the cardinal family (Cardinalidae). The species' plumage and vocalizations are similar to other members of the cardinal family.


Adult males are rose red and similar in appearance to the Hepatic tanager, although the latter has a dark bill; females are orangish on the underparts and olive on top, with olive-brown wings and tail. As with all other birds, all red and orange colorations are acquired through their diet.

Climate zones

Summer Tanager habitat map
Summer Tanager
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Habits and Lifestyle

Summer tanagers are diurnal birds. When not breeding they usually spend time singly or sometimes join mixed-species flocks of fruit-eating birds. Summer tanagers often stay out of sight, foraging high in trees, and sometimes flying out to catch insects in flight. They have an American robin-like song, similar enough that novices sometimes mistake this bird for that species. The song consists of melodic units, repeated in a constant stream. The birds also have a sharp, agitated-sounded call ‘pi-tuk or pik-i-tuk-i-tuk’.

Group name
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition

Summer tanagers are generally carnivores (insectivores) and mainly eat insects, especially bees and wasps, When insects are scares they will feed on fruit and berries.

Mating Habits

12-13 days
3-5.5 weeks
3-4 eggs

Summer tanagers are serially monogamous. They form pairs only for one breeding season which occurs between April and August. During this time males are territorial and actively defend their nests and feeding territory. Females build their cup nests on horizontal tree branches and line them with fine grasses. After the nest is complete the female lays 3 to 4 eggs and incubates them for 12-13 days. The chicks hatch helpless with their eyes closed and are fed by both parents. After 8 to 10 days, they leave the nest but remain dependent on their parents for about 2-4 weeks more. Reproductive maturity is reached when young Summer tanagers are 1 year old.


Population threats

Summer tanagers are not threatened at present but they suffer from habitat destruction and collision with television towers during their nocturnal migrations.

Population number

According to All About Birds Resource, the total breeding population size of the Summer tanager is 12 million individuals. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Ecological niche

Summer tanagers play a very important role in the ecosystem they live in. Due to their diet habits, these birds control the populations of the insects they eat and they also help spread seeds of the plants they eat.


1. Summer tanager Wikipedia article -
2. Summer tanager on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

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