Summer Tanager Piranga rubra

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Cardinalidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors needed...

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The summary below is an overview from The Birds of North America Online.

BNA Account Authors: Robinson, W. Douglas

With its distinctive rosy red plumage and unique song, the adult male Summer Tanager is arguably one of North America's most striking neotropical migrants. This tanager is found across the southern United States from California to Florida, and in the eastern United States as far north as 40°N. Two subspecies are currently recognized. One, P. r. cooperi, breeds in the Southwest from California to west Texas and northern Mexico. The other, P. r. rubra, occupies the remainder of the range to the east.

Noted for its consumption of bees and wasps on both its breeding and wintering ranges, the Summer Tanager also readily eats fruits such as mulberries, blackberries, pokeweed, Cecropia, citrus, and bananas. Western populations inhabit riparian woodlands and, at higher elevations, woodlands dominated by mesquite and salt cedar. Eastern populations favor open deciduous forests or, in the southeast, pine-oak forests, often near gaps and edges. Surprisingly, little is known of their breeding biology or reproductive success. The North American breeding population has remained generally stable over the last 20 years, although some populations have declined in the eastern United States and along the Colorado River in the Southwest.

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© Geoffrey A. Keller

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: