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Scarlet Tanager - male | by Len Blumin
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Scarlet Tanager - male

Taken in Fort De Soto Park, Florida (Gulf Coast), April 16, 2008. These strong fliers easily cross the Gulf of Mexico.

 

The male Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) is the one of the most recognizable birds in the eastern half of the United States. It is the longest migrant of all tanagers, wintering as far south as Peru and returning the the Eastern U.S. and southern Canada to breed. The Scarlet Tanager is mainly an insectivore, but also eats some berries and buds. It is monogamous, and aggressive on breeding territory towards other males. Female does all the incubating, and is sometimes fed by the male. By 9 days of age the chick is 70% of adult weight, and leaves the nest by age 10-11 days. Song is said to be like a hoarse burry American Robin. Population of species said to be stable, but vulnerable to Brown-headed Cowbird.

 

Taxonomy (this seems to change every few years, so excuse the errors of my research)

 

Order: Passeriformes - Perching birds, or songbirds.

 

Family: Thraupidae - Tanagers and allies. Other related families include Cardinals/Gosbeaks, Sparrows, and even the Blackbirds. Sure wish we had more tanagers here, as there are 254 species in 65 genera. Good selection in Central America, but the rain forests of South America are supposedly filled with Tanagers (Ecuador, et. al.). Some day........ We have only 6 species of Thraupidae in the U.S., in 2 genera.

 

Genus: Piranga - 9 species in all. The 4 species seen in the U.S. are Hepatic, Summer, Western, and Scarlet Tanagers -- all of them show-stoppers.

 

Species: Piranga olivacea - Scarlet Tanager. Latin name refers to the color of the female. According to Holloway (Dictionary of Birds of the U.S.) the word "tanager" is from the Tupi Indian word "Tangara", for similar birds in their area in Amazon Basin.

 

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Taken on April 16, 2008