8 Surprising Facts About Tanagers

Take a peek into the vibrant world of North American tanagers.

1. A flame-colored tanager was spotted in the U.S. for the first time in 1985. The species is still a rare visitor in Arizona’s Chiricahua Mountains.

2. Look to the treetops for these birds and their nests. The birds construct homes on branches as high as 75 feet.

3. Western tanagers breed farther north than any other tanager. Their northernmost range stretches into Canada’s Northwest Territories, where it’s so cold that they may stay only two months before heading south.

4. Five tanager species are found in North America: summer, scarlet, western, hepatic, and flame-colored.

5. There are a few mostly red birds (cardinals, pine grosbeaks, vermillion flycatchers) in North America, but the male summer tanager is the only one with completely red coloring.

6. Summer tanagers in the West have 15 percent longer bills and tails than the ones in the East.

7. Attract scarlet tanagers to your backyard with berry-producing trees and shrubs. Six that will do the trick: raspberry, huckleberry, serviceberry, mulberry, strawberry, and chokeberry.

8. People once believed that a scarlet tanager could eat 2,000 gypsy moth caterpillars in an hour. That’s false, but these birds do help control pests.

Learn even more about tanagers: 4 Vibrant Tanager Species to Know