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June 14, 2014 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Scarlet Tanager

A couple of weeks ago I was out searching for a Snowy Egret that had been sighted along the river where I monitor birds for the forest preserve. After several hours and no sign of the bird, I gave up. As I was walking along the trail back to my car, I heard a male Scarlet Tanager singing directly above me.

Male Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

During the breeding season, adult males are a gorgeous bright red with black wings and tail. They are slightly smaller than a Cardinal. The females and youngsters are olive-yellow. After breeding, adult males molt to an olive color but retain their black wings and tail.

Singing a lovely song

Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager is usually difficult to find. They prefer to stay high up in the forest canopy, hidden by the leaves. Sometimes I’ll see a flash of red or hear the male’s robin-like song. With a little patience I can usually get a look at the bird, but rarely a photo.

Checking me out

Scarlet Tanager

This bird wasn’t the most cooperative and kept moving around between the leaves and branches. At one point he twirled upside down and I swear he was looking right at me.

Just as he emerged from the leaves and on to an open branch, he was startled away by noisy people walking along the path. I got the last photo as he flew off into the forest.

Flying away

Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager is a summer resident in the eastern portion of North America. They are long-distance migrants and spend the winter in South America flying at night across the Gulf of Mexico. There they join in a mixed flock of other foraging species and resident tropical tanagers.


Saturday Snapshot was originated by Alyce at At Home With Books. It is now hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos or add your own.

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Leave a Comment
  1. Sean @ His and Her Hobbies / Jun 14 2014 5:54 am

    He looks really cool. I’ll have to keep a closer eye out when I am out as I am probably missing many of these wonderful coloured birds.

    Sean at His and Her Hobbies


  2. Louise / Jun 14 2014 6:32 am

    What a beautiful fellow he is in his red and black costume. And thanks for the link to his song.


  3. readerbuzz / Jun 14 2014 6:39 am

    We live in one of the best birding spots in the US, but I really know nothing about birds. We always see some very cool water birds each morning on our walk. I don’t know what they are. Maybe I need to take my camera along next week!

    Here’s my Saturday Snapshot.


  4. laurelrainsnow / Jun 14 2014 10:10 am

    I am a big fan of red birds…and this is a lovely specimen! Great shots, and how wonderful that you could capture images of such an elusive bird. Thanks for sharing.



  5. Sandra Nachlinger / Jun 14 2014 12:06 pm

    Beautiful creature! Thanks for the link to the recording of the bird’s song too. Such a delightful post.
    This week my Saturday Snapshots are of MOUNT RAINIER.


  6. Anne / Jun 14 2014 12:43 pm

    What part of the world do you live in? You always have such diverse bird shots. As usual I am very impressed by your photography.


    • Leslie / Jun 14 2014 1:14 pm

      I’m in the Midwestern US, in a suburb west of Chicago. I spend a lot of time in the forest preserves. There are quite a few species in this area, but many of them stay in the prairie or the woods – they rarely come to backyards or parks.


  7. BermudaOnion / Jun 14 2014 12:50 pm

    Oh, he’s gorgeous all dressed up in his finery!


  8. Suko / Jun 14 2014 1:02 pm

    So beautiful! These photos of the The Scarlet Tanager are just gorgeous.


  9. Sheila (Book Journey) / Jun 14 2014 2:54 pm

    He is very pretty!


  10. Beth F / Jun 15 2014 7:45 am

    So pretty! My husband saw one in our yard, but by the time I came outside the bird was gone. Great captures.


  11. diane / Jun 15 2014 8:21 am

    Stunning — Not sure I’ve seen one before.


  12. Sue / Jun 15 2014 10:28 am

    Such a gorgeous bird with his striking red and black. If only they weren’t so shy and would stay a little more in the open (for us photographers).


  13. susanmillerlindquist / Jun 15 2014 12:33 pm

    Wow! Terrific shots! Those little tanagers ARE reclusive, aren’t they? But what beauties!


  14. Carol / Jun 16 2014 1:26 pm

    How pretty! I’ve heard of them, but I’m not sure that I’ve seen one.



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