Make the ID: Scarlet vs Summer Tanager

Scarlet Tanager Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel
A flash of intense bright red in the trees during summer in North America. No crest means the all red bird is most likely a Tanager. and not a Northern Cardinal. If you are in North America, it could be either a Summer or Scarlet Tanager.  Both birds have bright red heads and bodies and pale bills. So what’s the critical difference?


1 – Look for the black. Adult male Scarlet tanagers have black wings and tail; summer tanagers are red all over including wings.
If the wings aren’t visible look for…


Summer Tanager Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel
2 – Look closely at the  beak color – both birds have pale beaks, but summer tanagers’s beaks are pinkish and scarlet tanagers have grey beaks.


We are fortunate to have several stunning red birds in North America, and  while similar, they are not that difficult to tell apart!