Tanagers, Cardinals & Allies
Piranga rubra, Length: 7.75"
The male summer tanager is a bright rosy red all over and can at times appear to have a slight crest on its head. The other most noticeable feature of this species is its large dark bill, much larger than the bill of the scarlet tanager. The yellow-green females may show a hint of the male's reddish coloration.
Song is similar to the scarlet tanager's, but richerless harsh and more liquid. More distinctive is the summer tanager's explosive call: perky-tuck! Or perky-tucky-tuck!
Female summer tanagers are more uniformly yellow than female scarlet tanagers. If you're confused, look at the bill. If it's long and thick at the base, you've got a summer tanager.
In summer, look for summer tanagers in open oak or pine woods in the Southeast and in streamside cottonwoods in the Southwest. Finding one in the treetops can take patience, as they are not super active when foraging.
One of the folk names for this species is beebird, for its habit of eating bees and wasps. Its long stout bill is an ideal tool for capturing and subduing these stinging insects.