Feathered Friends – Summer Tanager

Summer Tanager
Summer Tanager male

When you see the beautiful rosy-red plumage of the first male Summer Tanager of the year, you know two things. First: that spring is finally here and second: that you are in high quality cottonwood and willow riparian habitat. This handsome species is closely associated with this habitat in the Southwest and will nest along flowing rivers such as the Santa Cruz. The male is the only all red bird in North America and looks shockingly red, especially against the bright green of a cottonwood tree. The female looks very similar in size and shape but instead of red, she is completely mustard yellow. When you hear their distinctive two-note “pi-tuk” call look up into the canopy and you may see them fly out to capture a juicy cicada to feed to their nestlings.