Summer and Scarlet Tanagers

Published 4:23pm Monday, September 10, 2012

Another major difference between the tanagers and the Cardinal is their vocalizations. Cardinals sing a rich, loud rolling song with strong phrases and clear notes, while the scarlet tanager’s song is a burry, harsh scratching warble – reminiscent of the song of the American robin, although without the sweetness. The song of the summer tanager is richer and clearer than that of the scarlet tanager and more robin-like in its quality. The call-notes of all three species are quite different.
The best way to find either the scarlet or summer tanager is to thoroughly familiarize yourself with all of their songs by listening to tapes or CD’s and then head out into the woods to see who you can find. This is always a challenge, but once accomplished, you will be surprised at how many tanagers are here in our woodlands.
Simon Thompson has lived in WNC for the past 20 years. He owns and operates his own birding tour company, Ventures Birding Tours.
He and Chris also own and operate the Asheville Wild Birds Unlimited Store. For more information on any of the birding activities in the area, drop by the store or check his website at

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