South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Scarlet Tanager

Piranga olivacea

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 11.5 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Brilliant scarlet body with black wings and tail (male).  Female dull yellow-green with darker wings.

Scarlet Tanager - Piranga olivaceaScarlet Tanagers are a very brightly colored bird of forests and woodlands in the eastern part of the state.  Scarlet Tanagers, like the other Tanagers found in the state, are long distance migrants, wintering in South America.  The brilliantly plumaged summer male undergoes a molt to the same olive green color as the female, although it retains the black colored wings in all plumages.

Habitat: Forests and woodlands, preferably large unbroken deciduous tracts.  Seems especially fond of Oak and Pine in many areas.

Diet: Primarily insects, with some worms, snails, fruits, and berries.

Behavior: Primarily forages in tall trees, usually relatively high in the canopy, but sometimes lower (especially in poor weather).  Will move slowly through foliage and branches in search of insects, but will also sometimes hover and glean insects from the vegetation, or will fly out to capture insects in mid-air.

Nesting: June and July

Breeding Map: Breeding Bird Survey map

Song: Scarlet Tanager Song

Migration: Summers in the eastern half of the United States.  Winters in South America.

Similar Species: Western Tanager, Summer Tanager

Feeders: Will come for cut fruit, nectar, and baked goods.

South Dakota "Hotspot": Newton Hills State Park in Lincoln County is an excellent location to find Scarlet Tanagers in the spring and summer.

Conservation Status: Requires large continuous forest blocks for successful breeding.  Probably in decline in highly fragmented landscapes.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Scarlet Tanager

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Scarlet Tanager

3) - Scarlett Tanager

Photo Information: June 2007 - Newton Hills State Park, South Dakota - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Scarlet Tanager photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Scarlet Tanager - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant in the east, uncommon summer resident in the Southeast and extreme Northeast.  Casual migrant and summer visitor elsewhere in the state.