Have you ever caught a glimpse of a vibrant bird playfully fluttering in your backyard and found yourself curious to know more? I’ve shared the same thought while sipping my morning coffee, until I plunged headfirst into the captivating world of Tanagers.

Believe it or not, there are five striking species of tanagers dotting our North American landscapes. Well, this blog is committed to shedding light on these avian marvels by diving deeper into their distinct characteristics and intriguing behaviors.

Shall we embark on this colorful exploration together over another cup of coffee?.

Key Takeaways

  • There are five types of tanagers found in North America: the Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Western Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, and Flame Colored Tanager.
  • Tanagers have vibrant plumage and can be identified by their colorful bodies and medium – sized, chunky shape.
  • To attract tanagers to your backyard, provide a variety of food sources like fruits, insects, and nectar. Creating a comfortable habitat with native plants and avoiding pesticide use is also important.
  • Tanager species face threats such as habitat loss, climate change, and collisions with buildings. Individuals can contribute to tanager conservation by supporting habitat protection efforts and advocating for responsible practices.

Types of Tanagers Found in North America

There are several types of tanagers that can be found in North America, including the Scarlet Tanager, Summer Tanager, Western Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, and Flame Colored Tanager.

Scarlet Tanager

The Scarlet Tanager is a sight to see. This bird has bright red bodies and black wings. They love the woods and don’t visit cities much. You will find them in big trees where they can hide their nests.

They only live here for a short time of year, but that’s part of why people like seeing them so much.

Summer Tanager

The Summer Tanager is a medium-sized, chunky songbird found in North America. It belongs to the family Thraupidae and the order Passeriformes. Unlike other tanager species, which have a neotropical distribution, the Summer Tanager breeds in temperate parts of North America.

They are known for their bright red plumage (males) or yellowish-green plumage (females). These tanagers can be found in various habitats including forests, woodlands, and even urban areas with trees.

Their diet mainly consists of insects and fruits. If you want to attract Summer Tanagers to your backyard, consider putting out feeders with jelly or orange slices.

Remember that the Summer Tanager is closely related to both Scarlet and Western Tanagers. In fact, taxonomists used to classify them all under the Cardinalidae family before reclassifying them as part of Thraupidae.

Western Tanager

The Western Tanager is one of the four tanager species found in North America. It is a medium-sized bird, known for its bright yellow body and black wings with white wingbars. The male has a striking red face, while the female has a more subdued yellow-green hue.

This tanager species breeds mostly in high mountain areas and can be found in open conifer or mixed forests during migration. The Western Tanager’s diet consists of insects, fruits, and nectar.

Like other tanagers, it is known for its melodious song. Birders can attract this beautiful bird to their backyards by providing food sources such as fruit feeders or hanging nectar feeders filled with sugar water.

Hepatic Tanager

The Hepatic Tanager is one of the four tanager species found in North America. These medium-sized, chunky songbirds have a neotropical distribution and belong to the family Passeriformes.

They are not as well-known as other tanagers but can still be found across parts of western and southwestern United States, Mexico, and Central America. The male Hepatic Tanager has a rich reddish-brown plumage that resembles liver color, while the female is more muted with olive-green feathers.

They prefer habitats like pine-oak woodlands or riparian areas with thick vegetation where they can find insects and fruits to eat. Although they are not considered endangered, habitat loss due to deforestation poses a threat to their populations.

Flame Colored Tanager

The Flame Colored Tanager is another beautiful species found in North America. It has bright orange plumage with black wings, making it a striking bird to spot. These tanagers can be found in the southwestern United States and Mexico, where they prefer oak woodlands and pine forests as their habitat.

They are known for their melodious songs and are often seen perched on treetops or flying between branches. Like other tanagers, they feed on insects, fruits, and nectar. The Flame Colored Tanager adds vibrant colors to our avian diversity, making it a delight for birdwatchers to observe in the wild.

Identifying Tanagers and Attracting Them

To identify tanagers in the field, look for their unique physical characteristics such as vibrant plumage and medium-sized, chunky bodies. Attract these beautiful birds to your backyard by providing a variety of food sources like fruit, nectar, and insects.

Physical characteristics and field identification

To identify different types of tanagers in the field, it’s important to pay attention to their physical characteristics. Tanagers are medium-sized and chunky songbirds with colorful plumage.

They have short, thick bills that are perfect for eating insects and fruits. Scarlet Tanagers have bright red bodies with black wings and tails, while Summer Tanagers are mostly red or orange all over.

Western Tanagers have yellow bodies with black wings, back, and tail feathers. The Hepatic Tanager is reddish-brown overall with a darker head and throat. Lastly, Flame-colored Tanagers have orange-red bodies with black wings.

When you’re out birdwatching, look for these distinctive colors to help you identify tanagers from other birds. Keep an eye out for their behavior as well – they often perch high up in trees or fly quickly through the canopy.

Attracting tanagers to your backyard is another way to enjoy these beautiful birds up close. Planting native trees and shrubs that provide food sources like berries can attract them.

Installing bird feeders filled with fruits or offering mealworms can also entice them into your yard.

Tips for attracting tanagers to your backyard

Attracting tanagers to your backyard is a rewarding experience for birders. Here are some tips to help you attract these beautiful birds:

  • Provide a variety of food sources: Tanagers enjoy a diverse diet, so make sure to offer a mixture of fruits, insects, and nectar. You can put out fresh or dried fruit like oranges, cherries, and grapes. Planting native flowering plants and hanging nectar feeders will also attract tanagers.
  • Create a comfortable habitat: Tanagers prefer areas with dense vegetation for nesting and cover. Plant trees and shrubs that provide both food and shelter. Adding water features like birdbaths or small ponds will give them a place to drink and bathe.
  • Use bright colors: Tanagers are attracted to vibrant colors, so decorate your yard with colorful feeders, flowers, or birdhouses. The bright hues will catch their attention and make them feel more welcome.
  • Avoid pesticides: Tanagers rely on insects as an important part of their diet. Using pesticides can harm these beneficial insects and deter tanagers from visiting your yard. Instead, focus on creating a natural ecosystem that supports insect life.
  • Provide perching spots: Tanagers prefer elevated perches where they can sing and keep an eye out for predators. Place tall trees or sturdy branches in your yard that offer clear views of the surroundings.

Habitat and Range

Tanager species can be found in various geographic regions across North America, with each species having its preferred habitats and nesting behaviors.

Geographic regions where tanagers can be found

I’ve got some great news for birders! Tanagers can be found in various geographic regions across North America. These colorful birds are most commonly spotted in the eastern and central parts of the United States, particularly during their breeding season.

In the east, you can find species like Scarlet and Summer tanagers, while Western Tanagers are more prevalent in the western regions of North America. These vibrant songbirds also make appearances in Mexico and Central America during migration.

So whether you’re exploring forests, woodlands, or even your own backyard, keep an eye out for these beautiful tanagers!

Preferred habitats and nesting behaviors

Tanagers are known for their diverse habitats and nesting behaviors. They can be found in a variety of environments, including forests, woodlands, shrubby areas, and even gardens. Some species prefer higher elevations in mountain ranges, while others thrive in lowland regions.

When it comes to nesting, tanagers build cup-shaped nests using twigs, grasses, moss, and other materials. These nests are often hidden among branches or foliage to protect the eggs and young from predators.

Tanagers are also known for being quite secretive when it comes to their nesting sites. They usually choose secluded locations away from human disturbance. It’s fascinating how these beautiful songbirds adapt their habitat choices and nest-building strategies to ensure the survival of their offspring.

Conservation and Threats

Tanager species face various conservation challenges, including habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change. It is important for individuals to support tanager conservation efforts through actions such as creating bird-friendly habitats, supporting local land preservation initiatives, and advocating for policies that protect these beautiful birds and their ecosystems.

Population trends and threats to tanager species

Tanager species in North America are facing population declines and various threats to their survival. These beautiful birds are experiencing habitat loss due to deforestation, urbanization, and agricultural expansion.

Climate change is also affecting their breeding habits and food availability. Pesticide use can harm tanagers directly or indirectly by reducing their insect prey. Additionally, collisions with buildings and communication towers pose a significant threat to these birds during migration.

As birders, we can contribute to tanager conservation by supporting habitat protection efforts, promoting native plantings in our gardens, advocating for responsible pesticide use, and raising awareness about the importance of preserving these unique species.

How individuals can contribute to tanager conservation

We can all help protect and conserve tanagers by taking action. Here are some simple ways to contribute:

  1. Create a bird-friendly backyard: Plant native trees, shrubs, and flowers that provide food and shelter for tanagers.
  2. Install bird feeders and birdbaths: Provide a reliable source of food and water for tanagers throughout the year.
  3. Reduce pesticide use: Minimize or eliminate the use of harmful chemicals in your garden to protect tanager habitats.
  4. Support habitat conservation organizations: Donate to or volunteer with local conservation groups working to preserve tanager habitats.
  5. Participate in citizen science projects: Contribute valuable data by participating in bird counts or monitoring programs focused on tanager populations.
  6. Spread awareness: Educate others about the importance of tanagers and their conservation needs.


In conclusion, learning about the different types of tanagers found in North America can enhance your birding experience. By identifying these colorful songbirds and attracting them to your backyard, you can appreciate their beauty up close.

It’s important to be aware of the conservation issues surrounding tanager species and take steps to protect their habitats. Happy birdwatching!


1. What are tanagers?

Tanagers are medium-sized avian species that are a part of the North American birds, and they’re included in many bird species guide.

2. Can this guide help with bird identification?

Yes! “Discover the Different Types of Tanagers: A Guide to North American Species” is a birdwatching guide to helps you identify native tanagers among other birds.

3. Is ornithology related to studying tanagers?

Yes, ornithology is the study of all bird species, which includes learning about these colorful Neotropical birds known as tanagers.

4. How can I classify different types of tanagers?

With our bird classification methods provided in the guide, you can easily identify and categorize each type within this diverse American bird species.

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