Chuck Tague sent me this photo a month ago but there are so many baby birds to write about that I'm having a hard time keeping up.
You're probably wondering why I called this little brown bird a scarlet baby. It's because he's a fledgling scarlet tanager. You can see what he'll look like as an adult if you click on his picture. Quite a difference.
Male scarlet tanagers change color many times as they mature. If this baby is male, it will take him two years to become solid red and black like his father. You can see all the scarlet tanager plumage variations - both male and female - by clicking here. It’s bewildering how many colors the same bird can be.
Scarlet tanagers molt twice a year. The male is red and black in breeding season, green and black in the non-breeding season which tanagers spend in northwestern South America (Columbia, Ecuador, Peru). The female is always yellowish green.
Those who see green-colored scarlet tanagers from November to March must wonder why we call them scarlet. I’m sure they have a different name for them.
p.s. See the comments below for other scarlet tanager names.
(photo by Chuck Tague)