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Flame-colored Tanager

Piranga bidentata

Length: 7.5 inches Wingspan: 12 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Males bright orange body and head, dark wings with 2 white wing bars, streaked upper mantle.  Females similar but yellowish in color

Flame-colored Tanager - Piranga bidentataThe Flame-colored Tanager is a beautifully colored tanager normally found in Mexico and Central America.  They are very rare vagrants in the United States, with the first sighting occurring in 1985.  Since then, they have been seen occasionally, with most birds being seen in extreme southern Arizona, but with a handful of sightings along the Mexican border of Texas as well.  They have also been seen nesting in Arizona.  They are closely related to the Western Tanager, and hybrid Flame-colored and Western Tanagers are seen on occasion.  The first Flame-colored Tanager seen in the U.S. in 1985, in fact, was documented as breeding with a female Western Tanager and producing offspring.

Habitat: Found in mountain forests in their normal range.  Those seen in the United States have typically been found in similar habitat.

Diet: Feeds mostly on insects, but will also take fruits and berries in season.

Behavior: Forages by deliberately moving through the foliage, pausing to look for insects.  It will directly glean insects from foliage and branches, or it will sometimes fly out to capture flying insects in mid-air.

Nesting: The nest is a cup of grasses and other vegetation, built mostly by the female.  The female lays 3 or 4 eggs, which are incubated by the female.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help to raise the young.

Song: Series of gurgling phrases with pauses in between.

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout its normal range.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Flame-colored Tanager sightings

Similar Species: Western Tanager

Feeders: Will attend feeders for fruits and berries.

Conservation Status: Populations appear to be stable, and the IUCN lists the Flame-colored Tanager as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) Flame-colored Tanager in Arizona

2) Audubon Guide - Flame-colored Tanager

3) Arizona Field Ornithologists - Flame-colored Tanager

Photo Information: Photo taken by Andy Jones - Cleveland Museum of Natural History - Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike 2.0 Generic License.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Flame-colored Tanager - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Flame-colored Tanager Photos (coming soon!!)