The Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) is a medium-sized bird in the Cardinalidae family of passerine (song bird) cardinal birds.

The Scarlet Tanager male is crimson-red with black wings and a black tail. The female is olive on her upperparts and yellowish on her underparts with yellow-olive wings and tail. In winter, the male looks similar to the female, except that its wings and tail remain darker. Both the male and female have a pale, stout, smooth beak, pale legs, and small dark eyes.

Scarlet Tanager (male)

It grows to 16-19 centimetres (6-8 inches) tall. Its wingspan is 25-30 centimetres (10-12 inches).

It is found along the east coast of North America and migrates in winter to the north-west coast of South America. It prefers deciduous forests. It is also a rare vagrant to western Europe. 

It feeds in tall trees, often catching insects in flight and returning to the same perch. This is called sallying. It eats insects, such as bees, wasps, hornets, ants, moths, butterflies, beetles, flies, lice, cicadas, grasshoppers, termites, and dragonflies. 

The female Scarlet Tanger makes a nest and lays 3-5 eggs, which hatch after 11-14 days. The young are brownish in colour. They leave the nest after 9–12 days and can fly after a few weeks. 

Scarlet Tanager (male)
Scarlet Tanager (male)
Scarlet Tanager (male)

Location of photographs: London Zoo, United Kingdom

Photographer: Martina Nicolls


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