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.


  1. I own a newspaper in Jeff Davis County in south Georgia. I have heard the reports about Brood X 17-year cicadas emerging this spring. In looking at a 2011 (10 years ago) article in my newspaper, I saw a photo I took of what I believe was a Brood XIX cicada that was among the thousands that had emerged in Bullard Creek Wildlife Management Area in our county. I found a web site that showed a map of Georgia with the locations of different broods of cicada but no broods were shown for south Georgia. There is no question in my mind that the insect whose photo I snapped is a cicada and the eerie, loud mating calls were just as I’ve read described. A DNR Ranger sent me a photo of a cicada, prior to my going to the WMA and taking my own photo, and told me it was a 13-year brood. Was the web site wrong in showing no broods in south Georgia or am I and the Ranger mistaken?

  2. Tommy,

    I came across your request for information today. I made a similar discovery in Monroe County last year. I am by no means an expert of cicadas; however, the person that can answer your question is Dr. Nancy Hinkle at the University of Georgia. Her telephone number is 706-583-8043. She can be reached via email at I hope this info helps.


  3. Pingback: How to Attract Summer Tanagers: Expert Tips for Bird Enthusiasts -

  4. Pingback: How to Attract Western Tanagers: Expert Tips and Techniques -

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