Tanager, any of more than 200 species of perching birds native to the Americas. Almost all tanagers live in tropical and subtropical areas. Four species—the western, scarlet, hepatic, and summer tanagers—are native to the United States. The western and scarlet tanagers are also native to Canada.
Most tanagers are less than eight inches (20 cm) in length. Members of the species native to the United States are about seven inches (18 cm) long. Most tanagers are brightly colored. In general, the males do not differ from the females in coloration; the United States species, in which the males are much more brightly colored than the females, are a notable exception. The United States species winter in the tropics; all others are nonmigratory. Almost all tanagers eat insects and small fruits; there are, however, a few nectar-eating species.
The male western tanager is yellow and black except for its red face. The male scarlet tanager (also called redbird) is bright red with black wings and tail. (For color picture, The male hepatic tanager is dull red with black wings and tail. The male summer tanager (also called summer redbird) is completely red. Females of these species are greenish above and yellow below. They lay three to five bluish, spotted eggs in cupshaped nests built on tree branches. The eggs are incubated for 13 to 15 days.
Tanagers make up the subfamily Thraupinae of the family Emberizidae. The scarlet tanager is Piranga olivacea; the western, P. ludoviciana; the summer, P. rubra; the hepatic, P. flava.