Creature Feature

Creature Feature – The Scarlet Tanager

Posted by  //  July 23, 2020  //  Articles, Creature Feature

In addition to the handsome northern cardinal, there’s another ruby-hued gent in the treetops, and he’s just as dazzling — perhaps more so.  It’s the scarlet tanager.  The male bird is easy to identify this time of year; he is fiery red, except for a black tail and wings.  The female is pale yellow and has an olive-toned tail and wings.  You will likely hear the scarlet tanager more often than see it:  the male is very vocal during the breeding and nesting season.  His melodic song is reminiscent of a robin’s, but with a scratchy-sounding quality.  Male birds often engage in singing disputes over territory which can escalate to feathered brawls.  Another common vocalization is an emphatic “chick-bur!”  This species spends much of its time high up in the tree canopy, stalking insects among the branches.  It also catches flying insects from mid-air.  Many pests are eaten throughout the season, including caterpillars, moths, beetles, wasps and aphids.  In cooler weather, the bird may forage closer to the ground.  The scarlet tanager is not a year-round resident.  By summer’s end, it will migrate south, traveling mostly at night, to spend wintertime in the tropical rainforest located just east of the Andes.

Article & Photo by Margie Manthey

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