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October 1, 2016 / Leslie

Weekend Birding: Scarlet Tanager

Last week, while walking in the park, I spotted a female scarlet tanager. This was the first time I have seen one in the park. I usually find them in the wooded area of the forest preserve.

Unlike the male who is a gorgeous bright red with black wings and tail, the female is an olive-yellow color. After breeding season the adult males will molt and become the same olive color, but his wings and tail remain black.

Female 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. During September and October they make their way south flying at night across the Gulf of Mexico. There they join in a mixed flock of other foraging species and resident tropical tanagers.

Male Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager
I saw this male a few years ago. I heard him singing so I waited nearby until he popped out of the leaves for a few seconds.

These birds can be difficult to find as they prefer to stay high up in the forest canopy, hidden by the leaves. Males can be a little easier to catch sight of than females. Sometimes I’ll see a flash of red or hear the male’s robin-like song. They are slightly smaller than a Cardinal, but I use my binoculars to check out every red bird I see hiding in the leaves.

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda of West Metro Mommy. Visit her blog to see more great photos.

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Leave a Comment
  1. BermudaOnion / Oct 1 2016 3:23 pm

    They’re gorgeous!


  2. Suko / Oct 1 2016 3:46 pm

    Such gorgeous birds and photos! The colors are remarkable.


  3. Louise / Oct 1 2016 5:19 pm

    What a lucky sighting (although I know you’re always prepared), great photos.


  4. Laurel-Rain Snow / Oct 1 2016 9:35 pm

    They are both so beautiful! You captured their essence. Thanks for sharing…and for visiting my blog.


  5. Jennifer / Oct 4 2016 7:40 pm

    They are beautiful birds. One day in May I looked out the window and saw a male Scarlet Tanager hopping around on the pool cover. It made my week! It’s been a long time since I last saw one.


  6. thepleasureofnature / Nov 7 2016 5:39 pm

    Absolutely amazing!


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