A Summer Tanager shows off its yuletide plumage

The reddest bird of all

The Summer Tanager stands out for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that the male is the only completely red bird in North America. This time of year, that earns him a place in this yuletide gallery devoted to our favorite holiday bird photos. We ran into this tanager and its greenish yellow mate this summer near Nashville, and at first knew they were near only from their distinctive songs and calls. Tanagers spent their time high in the canopy, often hidden away from birders. But we kept looking and, like unwrapping an unexpected present, we finally spotted him one day on a lower branch, as seen in this top photo. We might have been imagining it, but after a few days of hanging around them, they seemed to accept us as part of the landscape and we saw a lot of them. We’ve treasured that encounter, and the photos it gave us, the rest of the year. Here’s a post we wrote on them back in the fall.

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