The Summer Tanager is a neotropical migrant that flies north from South and Central America, and Mexico to breed across the southern and eastern United States. Along the Colorado River, they breed in cottonwood and willow forests and often in created conservation areas. Although so bright, they can be hard to see in the forest's canopy.
The male of this species is the only all-red bird in North America. He will sing a sweet robin-like song from his territory. When they eat bees (which they love), they will swipe them across a branch to remove their stinger.
Why a Species of Concern
Listed as a Species of Special Concern in California and on the LCS MSCP (Lower Colorado River Multi-Species Conservation Program). The loss of riparian cottonwood-willow forests and the increase of Brown-headed Cowbirds are likely causes of the recent decline.
Grinnell’s surveys in the early 1900s showed Summer Tanagers as common in the cottonwood-willow forests along the river. By 1983, 69 pairs were located along the Lower Colorado River Valley. GBBO estimated 262 pairs with analysis in 2015, an increase, although still a species in peril.