Scarlet Tanagers for Mother’s Day!

Mother Nature gave Judy a very nice gift for Mother’s Day – the first Scarlet Tanagers we have ever seen in our garden. They showed up while we were having brunch on the back porch with our son Daniel – coming and going throughout the afternoon.


Scarlet Tanagers are certainly one of the most dramatically colored songbirds to be found in the Midwest. The contrast between the intense scarlet body and the jet-black wings is truly striking.

DSC_0820Scarlet Tanagers are hard to spot because they tend to stay at the top of the tree canopy. They are subtropical migrants, spending their winters in Peru, Ecuador, and Columbia.

DSC_0861The females are a sensible greenish yellow. They apparently do not have to dress to impress like the males.

DSC_0855You are most likely to see a Scarlet Tanager while it is migrating. They were attracted to our yard by the grape jelly that we put out for Baltimore Orioles. The Tanagers eat mostly insects, but they will also eat fruit during the winter and while migrating.

DSC_0858They certainly did chow down on the grape jelly, which also attracts Robins and Red-Bellied Woodpeckers, along with the Orioles.

DSC_0828It was so nice of the Scarlet Tanagers to drop by for our Mother’s Day brunch! We hope to see them again before too much longer.

46 Comments on “Scarlet Tanagers for Mother’s Day!”

  1. What a beautiful bird, and what perfect timing! We always get a thrill from unusual birds visiting us when we are sitting outside. I have never seen a Scarlet Tanager, but what a beauty! And very sensible to spend winter in warmer parts of the world.

  2. Migration is such a miracle. It’s a privilege to have visitors like tanagers! I’m envious. Do you get warblers as well? – They are much tinier birds but also gorgeous. They are fast moving so more difficult to spot. Your garden must be an oasis for these travelers.

  3. As “hairytoegardener” asked, I’m also inquiring if squirrels eat grape jelly. In my yard, squirrels eat almost anything, and they eat so much. I’ve also never seen a scarlet tanager. They are indeed beautiful. I was lucky during migration this year in that I saw my first-ever Rose-breasted Grosbeak, another gorgeous bird. I only got a few glimpses of him on my feeder before he flew away.

    • Squirrels are stopped very efficiently by our squirrel baffle, so we don’t know if they would like the grape jelly, although we suspect they will eat anything. Most years, we have rose breasted grosbeaks by now – They stay a week or two, and then move on. But this year, nothing yet.

    • We started putting out grape jelly to attract Baltimore orioles several years ago, and it works like a charm. We’ve had the orioles every year since. We also put out sliced oranges, but they mostly go for the jelly.

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