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 Summer Tanager

Piranga rubra

Description: Length: 6-7 inches

Habitat: Riparian Woodlands

Vocalization: chicky-tucky-tuck

The bird in the photo is an adult male. The female has a yellowish green back and wings and a yellow throat and belly. Summer Tanagers are an ornithologically prominent feature of the last fourteen miles of the South Fork Kern River before it terminates at Isabella Reservoir.  California's largest nesting population (35-50 pairs!) is found here. As many as ten nests of this "flying neon tomato" have been found in a single nesting season in the two mile stretch of riparian forest found between the Fay  Ranch Road Bridge and the Sierra Way Bridge. The first birds arrive for the nesting season the last few days of April. The rest of the population migrate in throughout May. The last individuals leave for fall migration the last week of September and, rarely, into early October. This species is most often heard and seen around the Kern River Preserve Headquarters, along the preserve's nature trail (Look for it in the exposed, leafless branch tops of the largest Fremont cottonwoods), along the ranch road leading west from Headquarters, around the Sierra Way Bridge area, Fay Ranch Road on both sides of the bridge (Bird from the sides of the road. The land in the immediate vicinity of the Fay Ranch Road Bridge is private property. Do not go off of the margins of the road!), and in the Sequoia National Forest's South Fork Wildlife Area north and west of the Sierra Way Bridge over the South Fork Kern River.


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