How to Find Scarlet Tanager

How to Find Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager Habitat (Where to look)

Scarlet Tanager Breeding Habitat:

  • interior of mature deciduous and mixed forests

    • seem to favor forests with Oak and Beech trees

    • preferred conifer trees appear to be Pine and Hemlock

Scarlet Tanager Migratory Habitat:

  • forests and open canopy woodlands - including wooded backyards, parks, orchards, and even weedy fields in close proximity to forest

Forest clearcuts/corridors are often a good spot to look for Scarlet Tanager

Forest clearcuts/corridors are often a good spot to look for Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager in American Beech tree; one of their favored trees

Scarlet Tanager in American Beech tree; one of their favored trees

Scarlet Tanager in weedy field

Scarlet Tanager in weedy field

Scarlet Tanager Behavior (What to look for)

  • mainly forages high in canopy but will occasionally forage at mid and even low levels - including in shrubs and on the ground

  • more likely to be seen at lower levels during migration

  • diet includes caterpillars, spiders, insects (especially bees/wasps), and berries (favorites are Red Mulberry, Virginia Creeper, and Blackberry)

  • males sing at high levels (often in the tallest trees)

  • while breeding occurs in the interior of forest, Scarlet Tanager frequently sing and forage in forest edge type areas

  • will occasionally visit bird baths and bird feeders with fruit (migration only) - halved oranges seem to be their favorite fruit to take from feeders

  • attracted to insect-laden, flowering trees in spring - including flowering dogwood

  • male Scarlet Tanager molt from scarlet-red to green-olive in fall

Scarlet Tanager eating a caterpillar

Scarlet Tanager eating a caterpillar

Male Scarlet Tanager

Male Scarlet Tanager

Female Scarlet Tanager

Female Scarlet Tanager

Motling Scarlet Tanager - note hints of scarlet color near neck and head

Motling Scarlet Tanager - note hints of scarlet color near neck and head

Female Scarlet Tanager feeding her young

Female Scarlet Tanager feeding her young

Scarlet Tanager singing in a Beech tree

Scarlet Tanager singing in a Beech tree

Scarlet Tanager in Flowering Dogwood

Scarlet Tanager in Flowering Dogwood

Scarlet Tanager may visit birdbaths (in this case for a drink) if located near forest habitat

Scarlet Tanager may visit birdbaths (in this case for a drink) if located near forest habitat

Notes from Anonymous Birder(s)

“Not as hard to find as reputation would have you believe”

“Check tall trees first”

“listen for chick-burr call”

“in the shrubs and on the ground more often than you’d think”

Scarlet Tanager feeding on the ground

Scarlet Tanager feeding on the ground

Indicator Species

Red Eyed Vireo, Blue Gray Gnatcatcher, Yellow-Throated Vireo, Veery, Wood Thrush, Ovenbird

Good Luck!

Scarlet Tanager in Oak Tree