This is the second year in a row we’ve been visited by a pair of Scarlet Tanagers. Yay!



These birds are so brightly colored that they could be part of a neon sign. They look like they should spend their lives in a tropical jungle. Instead, they spend winters in places like Colombia and Ecuador and their summers in eastern North America.


They live mostly in the tree tops, where they like to eat insects. They’re also fond of fruit, which will attract them to lower elevations on occasion.


In terms of feeders, that means they will go for suet, grape jelly, and oranges. They are also attracted to berries and small fruits of many kinds. Think Serviceberries, Elderberries, Currants, Blackberries, etc.


Regarding size, Scarlet Tanagers are bigger than a Sparrow but smaller than a Robin.


These are the male’s summer colors. After breeding season, they let themselves go rather drab.



Scarlet Tanager sitting on a wire.


Judy caught the male and female together in this picture. The female is mostly greenish-yellow. Last year we saw the Scarlet Tanager for just a single day. This year we’ve seen them 2 days in a row so far. Wouldn’t it be cool if they nested nearby and visited regularly over the summer?


Oh, and remember how I said we had Orchard Orioles visiting this year for the first time? Judy managed to get a picture of this one. They are smaller and darker than their Baltimore cousins.

Have you seen Scarlet Tanagers in your garden?

48 Comments on “Return of the Scarlet Tanager”

  1. I’ve never seen one. At this point, my sightings of beautiful migrants consists of one Indigo Bunting and one Baltimore Oriole. On the other hand, if you want seabirds and wading birds and ducks and such, I can offer them up.

    The Tanagers are beautiful, although I was surprised by the colors of the female. I guess I would have expected her to be a more drab version of the male, instead of being differently colored.

  2. We occasionally see a scarlet tanager around, but not as a regular visitor. We do have daily visits lately from pairs of rose breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles (who gratify me by actually eating the oranges I leave for them!), and indigo buntings. Tons of finches, mourning doves, blue jays, and titmice, too. How nice that you were able to get pictures!

  3. I just read a post from an expert birder that the reason so many of us are seeing so many insectivorous birds at feeders this year is because they are starving! The cold wet spring has been bad for insects and the migrants are having to stop on their way to nesting grounds up north. We are lucky to see them but the reason is depressing. Keep up the feeding and enjoy themwhile we can.

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