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Scarlet Tanager - BirdForum Opus

Breeding male
Photo © by s_linste
Montreal, Quebec, May 2007
Piranga olivacea


7 1/2" (19 cm).
Adult male in breeding plumage is brilliant scarlet except on wings and tail which are black. Non-breeding adult male is olive green with yellower underside retaining the black wings and tail.

Adult female is a duller version of the non-breeding male, bill darker and wings less contrasty to back.

Non-breeding male
Photo © by Muskrat
Northeast Pennsylvania, September 2004

During late summer or early autumn, some of the males may show a patchwork plumage of red and green as they undergo a molt to olive green, except for their wings and tails, which remain black throughout the winter.

Immature males (and possibly sometimes adult males in non-breeding plumage) can have a wash of orange more or less unevenly distributed mostly on breast and rump2.


North and South America: Breeds in the northern 2/3 of eastern United States and in extreme southern Canada just north of the US range. Seen south of this range in the US and Mexico on migration, and rarely elsewhere in US and Canada.
Winters in South America east of the Andes from Colombia to Bolivia and western Brazil, and rarely in Panama.


Photo © by bobsofpa
Birding Center, Port Aransas, Texas, USA, April 2010

This is a monotypic species[1].


Chiefly mature woodlands, especially oak and pine.



This species spends most of its time high in the canopy eating mostly insects.


Three or four brown-spotted greenish eggs are laid in a shallow nest of twigs and stems lined with grass and placed on a horizontal branch.


Song: Hurried, burry, repetitive warble, somewhat like that of a robin. Delivered from a height.
Call: emphatic, nasal chip-bang or chip-burr


Click on photo for larger image


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Thread in Birdforum Id Forum discussing a bird with orange wash; read October 2008.

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