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Summer Tanager

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Summer Tanager

Family: Cardinalidae


Genus: Piranga


Specie: Piragna rubra


The Summer Tanager is a songbird (meaning that they are able to produce elaborate melodies) that migrates through North America, Central America, and distinctive parts of South America. This specie is closely related to the Scarlet and Western Tanagers and is often confused with these because of their vocalization and plumage.

Mature Male Summer Tanager

Mature Male Summer Tanager


These birds are of medium size and have both a large body and head. They are also sexually dimorphic; the adult males are characterized by having a vibrant strawberry colour while the females are mustard yellow with traces of olive green. Additionally, their songs also differ according to sex.

Summer Tanagers

When breeding, males are often found singing and chasing each other in order to delineate territorial boundaries and they mate with one female per season. On the other hand, the female builds the nest within a huddle of leaves or branches and incubates on her own while the male forages, preens (in other words, grooms), and rests (hmph!). However, once the eggs hatch they both share parental duties.

Mature Female Summer Tanager

Mature Female Summer Tanager


Their diet consists of fruits like blackberries, citrus, bananas, and mulberries, as well as terrestrial invertebrates like spiders, grasshoppers, and termites. Yet, their specialty consists of wasps and bees—which they capture in midair and rub against a surface to remove the stinger. This trait has given them the name bee bird. They are also capable of storing large fat deposits when they are travelling long distances.

Summer Tanager eating insect

Summer Tanagers reside in various habitats according to their geographical location and season. They can be found in open woodlands in East, close to riverbanks in the West, low elevations during summer time, and high on forest canopies during winter.  But we all know Belize is perhaps their favourite location!

Want to learn more about this wonderful specie? Then, why don’t you join us on a Belize birding tour here at the San Ignacio Resort Hotel?!