Bird Tails

Summer Tanagers Flash Their Colors

Bright and beautiful, Summer Tanagers make their home in Hot Springs Village during the breeding season.

They are medium size, chunky songbirds, with a large bill and robin-like song. The male is the only totally red bird in North America, while the female is mustard colored, and slightly smaller than the male.

Rosy red male is alert and on the look-out for insects, high in the tree. -  Photo by Vic Prislipsky.

Rosy red male is alert and on the look-out for insects, high in the tree. - Photo by Vic Prislipsky.

The female Summer Tanager is slightly smaller than the male, but equally chatty.  Photo by Vic Prislipsky.

The female Summer Tanager is slightly smaller than the male, but equally chatty. Photo by Vic Prislipsky.

You may not see them at your feeders. They prefer to be mid-way or high in the trees, darting through the leafy green, catching insects on the fly.

Summer Tanagers may be tempted with suet or water sources, but they dine primarily on insects: beetles, wasps, dragonflies, grubs, cicadas, grasshoppers, ants, caterpillars, weevils and spiders. They also eat fruits, especially in preparation for the long migration into Mexico, Central and South America.

The North American population, across the southern states, has remained generally stable over the last 20 years, and the oldest recorded Summer Tanager was 7 yrs, 11 months. Suprisingly little is know about their breeding habits.

—Story by Norma Wall