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Summer Tanager Piranga rubra


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Summer Tanager, male
credit: Dominic Sherony/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Thraupidae, Tanagers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has bright red plumage overall, darkest on wings and tail. ADULT FEMALE Usually rather uniformly buff-yellow overall, darkest on wings, back, and tail. Some individuals are mottled with red. IMMATURE Recalls adult female at first, but by first spring, male has acquired blotchy red elements to plumage on head, neck, and back.

Dimensions Length: 7-8" (18-20 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to mixed and deciduous woodland. Winters in Central America.

Observation Tips Fairly easy to see in suitable habitats.

Range Great Lakes, California, Florida, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Texas, Eastern Canada, Southwest, Plains, New England, Southeast

Voice Song is a series of fluty, whistling phrases, mostly disyllabic and with a robinlike quality; call is a rattling pik-tuk'tuk.

Discussion Male is stunningly colorful, but surprisingly easy to overlook when perched unobtrusively in dappled foliage. Diet includes berries and fruit, but also insects including bees and wasps; stingers are removed by rubbing prey on bark. All birds have a slightly peaked crown. Sexes are dissimilar.