Scarlet Tanager, I Presume
This past weekend a pair of Scarlet Tanagers visited the back garden. Like the Indigo Bunting, this is a bird that we see only once every year or so.
The male has a red body with black wings and tail, though this one looks more orange with a dash of yellow at his haunches. I think the difference is partly from the light and partly the bird itself. The female is a sort of pastel yellow.
Here’s a picture of the male that visited in 2017. You can see that he looks more scarlet and less orange than this year’s visitor.
According to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website, Scarlet Tanagers like to stay up in the tree tops. During spring migration, though, it is possible to draw them to feeders with grape jelly. They also are attracted to small fruits like Serviceberries (Amelanchier) and Raspberries (Rubus), though insects are their primary food.
All About Birds says that there has been a modest decline in the Scarlet Tanager population since the 1960s, possibly due to habitat fragmentation. This is a bird of the forest interior, though they may visit parks and gardens in the spring and fall.
Scarlet Tanagers spend the winter in the northern part of South America. Even if they only visit once a year, we are happy to offer them some sugary sustenance to help them recover from their long flight.