Summer Tanager: Bee Hunter

A few weeks ago I tweeted about the Scarlet Tanager, a bird with a name that I liked quite a bit:

Little did I know, that the related Summer Tanager was a complete bad *ss.  From The Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

“The Summer Tanager is a bee and wasp specialist. It catches these insects in flight and kills them by beating them against a branch. Before eating a bee, the tanager rubs it on the branch to remove the stinger. Summer Tanagers eat larvae, too: first they get rid of the adults, and then they tear open the nest to get the grubs.”

That’s right, the awesome Summer Tanager bashes these poor bees and (terrible) wasps before gobbling them down.  Not only that, they will raid a nest, kill the adults and feast on the grubs or larvae – pretty awesome right?  It does sound a little gruesome, but the thought of these pretty little red/orange birds hunting down wasps and carefully removing the stingers is impressive.

Now, like you I wanted to see this behavior!  I made a trip to YouTube and started searching – it was harder than I thought it would be, but here’s what I found.  I’m still searching for a classic Nat Geo super slow mow mid-flight catch, or branch bash (if you know of something like this please contact us!)

This clip shows a male Summer Tanager picking off a bee from the hive:


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