Scarlet Tanager 29 October 2010 at San Francisco Zoo SF Photos © 2010 Joseph Morlan
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normally breeds in deciduous forest in Eastern North America and winters in South America. In California it is
a very rare stray.
This individual was found at the San Francisco Zoo on 28 October by Dan Murphy. The next day I met Jim Lomax,
Dan Singer, Brian Fitch, David Tom, Dan Murphy and other interested birders at the zoo. Eventually Brian found
the Scarlet Tanager near the big pond and after more searching Jim Lomax relocated it in willows along the south
end of the pond. I attempted to digiscope it through Jim's Swarovski scope and was pleased with these results.
This is an immature male based on the solid black wing-coverts contrasting with paler retained juvenile flight
feathers. This is a wild bird, not part of the zoo collection. The zoo does not have this species.
In the breeding season, the males become a brilliant scarlet red color with black wings and tail. Most California
records come from late Fall and most are from coastal areas in Southern California. There are now enough records
that the California Bird Records Committee no longer reviews
records of this species.
No subspecies are recognized. This is one of nine species in the genus Piranga which have been moved from
the Tanager family to the Cardinalidae - the Cardinals and Allies.
Digiscoped with Panasonic DMC-LZ5 | Borrowed Swarovski | hand-held