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Summer Tanager

Piranga rubra

Length: 7.75 inches Wingspan: 12 inches Seasonality: Casual Visitor
ID Keys: Rosy red overall (male), females bright yellow body with darker wings.

Summer Tanager - Piranga rubraThe Summer Tanager is primarily a summer bird of the southern and eastern United States, but occasionally visits the state.  They are the most widespread and common of the Tanagers found in the United States.  Summer Tanagers often feed on bees and wasps, raiding bee hives and wasp nests, seemingly oblivious to the stinging insects.

Habitat: Open forests and woodlands, especially those with a high number of oaks.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects, especially in the summer.   Feeds on many bees and wasps.  Will occasionally feed on fruits and berries as well.

Behavior: Primarily forages high in the forest canopy, moving carefully through the foliage in search of insects.  Sometimes hovers to glean insects from foliage and branches, and will also fly out from a perch to capture flying insects in mid-air.

Breeding: Non-breeder in South Dakota

Song: Summer Tanager Song, also Summer Tanager Call

Migration: Summers in the southern and eastern United States.  Winters in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Summer Tanager sightings

Similar Species: Scarlet Tanager, Hepatic Tanager

Conservation Status: Summer Tanagers have shown sharp declines in parts of its range over the last few decades.

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

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Summer Tanager

3) Summer Tanager.

Photo Information: Photo courtesy of Norman Smith, 2004.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Summer Tanager - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare spring migrant, accidental migrant in the fall.

Additional Summer Tanager Photos (Coming Soon!)