Summer Tanager — Rosy Redbird

This brief video tribute to the rosy-red Summer Tanager features the male’s staccato calls and his robin-like song.

placeholder image for Summer Tanager clip

Summer Tanagers are fairly common here in Land Between the Lakes, which is one reason I like to come here in the spring. They inhabit the dry oak forests and are not easy to spot in the dense canopy, but they can be easily located by listening for their songs or calls.

The common call is a staccato pit-tuck or pit-ti-tuck, given by both the male and the female. Outbursts of notes may also be given.

The Summer Tanager’s musical song is often likened to that of a robin, but it contains rough burry notes. It can also be confused with the song of the Scarlet Tanager, although the latter’s song is considerably more burry and not nearly as musical. Here are the songs of a Summer Tanager that I recorded just a couple of days ago:

Songs of a male Summer Tanager. Recorded by Lang Elliott at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, 8:53 am, April 20, 2010.

For the sake of comparison, here are some typical songs of a Scarlet Tanager that I also recorded here at Land Between the Lakes a few days ago. His songs are much more burry overall:

Songs of a male Scarlet Tanager. Recorded by Lang Elliott at Land Between the Lakes, Kentucky, 9 am, April 21, 2010.

NOTE: Once a recording has been initiated and loaded, you can jump to any place in that recording by mouse clicking within the sonogram. You can even jump from one recording to another in this manner, which will allow you to easily compare the two different tanager songs.


  1. Excellent recordings and video! Here in Michigan, the Summer Tanager is ranked as a very rare but annual migrant, and possible breeder, based on territorial records and singing males in the middle of summer. They are most frequently encountered in southwestern Michigan, especially excellent birding spots such as Warren Dunes State Park. Believe it or not, I once saw a Summer Tanager in Michigan. It was on the street I live on. It was all-red, slightly larger than a House Sparrow, and was silent. That’s one of my most unusual bird sightings.

    I love the recording of the Summer Tanager. I especially love the distant Carolina Wren. The Carolina Wren is one of my favorite birds, especially by song. I always love to hear the song of a Carolina Wren echoing through the woods.

  2. Wow, this functionality is GREAT. What a great learning tool for people to enjoy as they explore the songs and calls of nature we’ll share.

    It is so beautiful to see the Summer tanager singing and calling in the shade of the forest. Gorgeous work Lang.

  3. Lang, that’s a great tool – to be able to click between two sonograms and compare the vocalizations of two birds! Two different species, or even two birds of the same species. I’d love to do that with my Louisiana Waterthrushes or my Purple Finch singing vireo song.

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