This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.
This is BirdNote.
In summer, the forests of the eastern United States are home to a bounty of birds. Birds – intriguing, attractive, mellifluous, or mysterious. But there’s one bird in particular that, nearly every time its name comes up, you hear the word “gorgeous”: the Scarlet Tanager.
The male Scarlet Tanager is a deep, dazzling red, glowing with the luster of velvet. His entire seven-inch body is feathered in scarlet, in bold contrast to his black wings and tail. (This resplendent summer visitor spends most of the year in tropical South America, as far south as Ecuador and Bolivia.)
Scarlet Tanagers nest within large tracts of mature forest, where they forage for insects under the shelter of the tree canopy. It seems that such boldly colored birds might offer an easy target for predators, or for a birdwatcher’s watchful gaze. But, though brilliant scarlet when viewed in the open, male Scarlet Tanagers are remarkably hard to spot when perched among the branches overhead. The contrasting bright and dark colors mimic summer’s pattern of light and shadow within the canopy. Thus the bird is often concealed.
So that gorgeous visitor from the tropics may well be hidden in plain sight!
For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.
Written by Bob Sundstrom
Narrator: Michael Stein
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
Deciduous forest morning songbirds recorded by Gordon Hempton of QuietPlanet.com. + used as ambient throughout.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Song of Scarlet Tanager  recorded by C.A. Marantz; call notes of Scarlet Tanager  recorded by W.L. Hershberger.
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org June 2014/2020
ID# SCTA-01-2014-06-12 SCTA-01