Scarlet Tanager Pocket Journal

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Model: PJ-55
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Scarlet Tanager 
(Pianga olivacea)

Adorned in flaming scarlet, with jet black wings and tail, the male scarlet tanager is one of the most beautiful birds of the deciduous forests of eastern North America.  In contrast, the female is an unassuming olive green above and yellow below.  The call note of the species is a distinctive “chick-breeee.”

A canopy-loving species, the scarlet tanager rarely visits the forest floor.  It nests from 8 to 75 feet above the ground.  The female lays 3-5 splotched pale blue eggs.  The parents feed their young insects which they glean from the surfaces of leaves.  Scarlet tanagers are especially fond of oak trees.

With many North American forests becoming fragmented, scarlet tanagers are losing the large, unbroken forests in which they prefer to nest.  These birds winter in South America mostly east of the Andes and especially in Amazonia.  Deforestation has unfortunately destroyed much of its wintering ground.  Due to the loss of habitat in both North and South America, tanager populations have declined during the past 15 years.  As with many migratory songbirds, habitat protection might be the only way to save the species.

Red is the color of strength, so perhaps these little birds have something to teach us about our own strength in the face of adversity.

artwork by John Sill

Tags: birds,