|Conservation status||Vulnerable to loss of habitat, on both summer and winter ranges. For breeding, seems to require large blocks of forest. Does poorly in smaller forest fragments, often being parasitized by cowbirds.|
|Family||Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Buntings|
|Habitat||Forests and shade trees (especially oaks). Breeds mostly in deciduous forest, mainly where oaks are common but also in maple, beech, and other trees; sometimes in mixed pine-oak woods, and occasionally in coniferous woods dominated by pine or hemlock. Winters in tropical rain forest in lowlands just east of the Andes.|
Forages mostly in tall trees (especially oaks), seeking insects rather deliberately among the foliage. May hover momentarily while taking an item, and sometimes flies out to catch insects in mid-air. Also forages in low shrubs or on the ground, especially in cold weather.
2-5, usually 4. Pale blue-green, with spots of brown or reddish-brown often concentrated at larger end. Incubation is by female only, about 12-14 days. Young: Both parents feed the nestlings, although the male may do less of the feeding in some cases. Young leave the nest about 9-15 days after hatching, are tended by parents (or by female only) for about 2 more weeks.
Both parents feed the nestlings, although the male may do less of the feeding in some cases. Young leave the nest about 9-15 days after hatching, are tended by parents (or by female only) for about 2 more weeks.
Mostly insects, some berries. In summer, feeds mainly on insects, including caterpillars, moths, beetles, wasps, bees, aphids, and many others; also some spiders, snails, worms, millipedes. Also eats wild fruits and berries, including those of mulberry, elder, sumac, and others. Winter diet poorly known.
In courtship, male hops about on branches below perched female, with wings drooped and tail partly spread, showing off contrast between red back and black wings and tail. Nest site is in tree (usually deciduous), typically 20-30' above ground, sometimes lower or much higher. Placed on horizontal branch, usually well out from the trunk. Nest (built by female) is a shallow open cup of twigs, weeds, grass, lined with fine grass and rootlets.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
Learn more about these drawings.
Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
Download Our Bird Guide App
Most spring migrants enter our area by coming north across Gulf of Mexico. Apparently migrates mostly at night.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsSong a hurried, burry, repetitive warble, somewhat like that of a robin. Call note an emphatic, nasal chip-bang.
Learn more about this sound collection.
How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Scarlet Tanager
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Scarlet Tanager
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.