Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager devours many destructive caterpillars and wood-boring beetles, most often but not exclusively in oaks.


Roland Jordahl
Scarlet Tanager, male
Linda Petersen
Scarlet Tanager, female


Scarlet TanagerRoland Jordahl
Roland Jordahl Scarlet Tanager, male

Scientific Name: Piranga olivacea.
Family: Cardinal.
Length: 7 inches.
Wingspan: 11-1/2 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Male is bright red (or occasionally orange) with black wings until fall, when it molts to yellow-green. Female looks identical to yellow-green male, with wings dark olive green instead of black.
Nest: Shallow saucer-shaped nest; holds  two to five light speckled eggs.
Voice: Whistled phrases in a rapid pattern, similar to an American robin with a sore throat. Also a short call, “chik-burr.”
Habitat: Tends to stay high in treetops in deciduous forest, especially in oaks.
Diet: Mostly insects, also some berries.
Backyard Favorites: Oranges, sugar water and grape jelly.

Bird Song & Range Map

Listen to the Scarlet Tanager’s song and learn where to spot them!

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Scarlet Tanager Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.