Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2005-23

Common name:

Scarlet Tanager

Scientific name: Piranga olivacea
Date: 5-28-05
Time: 10:15 AM
Length of time observed: 10 minutes or so
Number: 1
Age: Adult
Sex: Male
Location: Lytle Ranch
County: Washington
Distance to bird: About 75 feet
Optical equipment: 10 X 42 B&L Elites
Weather: Clear sky with some wind
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: The bird was a little larger than a Sparrow
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Somewhat uniform sized
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Bright red
(Description:)            Bill Type: Stout pointed bill
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
The whole head and body of the bird was bright red. The wings and the tail were jet black. The bill was blue gray. It had dark eyes that standed out from the bright red head. I didn't see the leg
Song or call & method of delivery: I heard it sing several times. It was 4 or 5 harsh burry sounding notes somewhat like a Robin or Grosbeak
Behavior: The bird was high up in the tops of large Ash and cottonwood trees. It was staying hidden most of the time while moving around in the trees.
Habitat: Large ash and cottonwood trees surrounded by desert scrub habitat.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
The closest look a like is a male Summer Tanager which there was a couple of in the area that I saw that day. They are all red and the wings and tail can look darker than their body but they aren't jet black like this birds were. And their bill always looks very large. To me the Summer Tanager song is a little sweeter sounding and less buzzy. I had just heard one singing before I found this guy. Hepatic Tanagers are much grayer overall without the bright red body and
contrasting black wings.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I had just seen my first breeding plumage males earlier in the month while back east. I have seen basic males and female type birds quite a few different times. I have seem many of the other Tanager species that occur in N. America
References consulted:  
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Larry Tripp
Observer's address: 131 N. Butch Cassidy
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird:  
Date prepared: 7-21-05
Additional material:  
Additional comments: I was in the area where I found this bird earlier in the morning and didn't see or hear it. A couple of hours later when I came back through the same spot I heard it singing. It took a few minutes to find the bird as it was staying hidden in the trees. I finally got some good looks at it but if it wouldn't have been singing I would have had a hard time following it. I had a camera with me but was unable to get a photo of the bird. I followed it around for a while but when the bird stopped singing I lost it and never saw it again despite looking around the area for another couple hours. I think it must have flew out when I wasn't looking. It's hard to imagine how a bird that bright
can be so hard to see.