Now that summer has officially arrived, days are getting shorter with each passing day. When this occurs many migratory birds beginning putting on the fat that will fuel the migration to their wintering grounds. One such bird is the summer tanager.
The summer tanager is a common resident of wooded backyards across the state. However, in spite of the fact, males are cloaked in red feathers and the females display a two-toned plumage (olive-green above, yellow below) and sport large pale bills, this colorful bird often goes unnoticed. This is because it often feeds in the tops of trees.
The summer tanager primarily consumes lots of insects such as bees, wasps, cicadas, yellow jackets and grasshoppers throughout the spring and early summer. However, throughout much of the summer as it is packing on fat in preparation for their autumn migration, fifty percent or more of its diet consists of fruits and berries.
Consequently, if you would like to attract local and migrating summer tanagers to your backyard at this time of the year, the best way to do that is to provide them with the fruits and berries they relish. If you look around your yard and cannot find any of the plants that produce this much-needed food, you should make every effort to add some of them to your landscape.
Here are some of the plants that provide fruits and berries gobbled up by summer tanagers as they prepare before they embark on their long flight to Central and South America: blueberry, blackberry, grape, hawthorn, flowering dogwood, rough-leaf dogwood, pokeberry, and black gum.