Known as "firebird" the "Scarlet Tanager" is one of the most dramatic birds in North America, the male seeming to light up the woods when the sun strikes the red pigment on his contour feathers. Yet he remains difficult to spot when motionless or moving slowly from branch to branch high up among the thick foliage. During late summer or early autumn, some males may show a patchwork plumage of red and green as they undergo molting to olive green, except for their wings and tails, which remain black throughout winter.
The female and juveniles are dull green above with yellowish underparts and dusky wings.
The "Scarlet Tanager" breeds across the eastern half of North America, from Maine to Georgia.
Calls or song.
The somewhat buzzy song of the tanager consists of four or five short, hoarse, nasal sounds like "querit, queer, queery, querit, queer".
Population and distribution.
The "Scarlet Tanager" inhabits mature woodlands of oak and pine, where it feeds on literally hundreds of species of harmful insects. This bird winters in the tropics.
The female "Scarlet Tanager" lays 3 or 4 brown-spotted greenish eggs in a saucer of twigs, stems and rootlets lined with grasses and pine needles. The nest is placed on a horizontal branch.