Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana

Order

PASSERIFORMES

Family

Cardinals & Piranga Tanagers (Cardinalidae)

Code 4

WETA

Code 6

PIRLUD

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Western Tanager is a medium songbird native to the Americas, and is considered a relative to cardinals. Preferred breeding habitats include coniferous and mixed woodlands found in western North America, including the Mexico-U.S. border and southern Alaska. Nests are cup-shaped and built in a conifer’s horizontal branch. During winter months, this species will migrate to central Mexico, Costa Rica and southern California. Food is gathered high in the trees of the forest, and insects are sometimes caught mid-flight. Diets consist of fruits, berries and insects. The conservation rating for the Western Tanager is Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

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BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Western Tanager: Medium-sized tanager with brilliant red head, bright yellow body, black back, wings, and tail. Wings have two bars: upper bar is yellow, lower bar is white. Legs and feet are gray. Female is olive-green above, with gray back and yellow underparts. Swift direct flight on rapidly beating wings. It was first recorded on the Lewis and Clark expedition.

 

Range and Habitat

Western Tanager: Breeding range includes forests along the western coast of North America from Alaska to Baja California, extend east to Texas and through central New Mexico, central Colorado, extreme northwest Nebraska, and areas of South Dakota to Northwest Territories, Canada. Habitat is coniferous or mixed woods.

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Western Tanager SONGS AND CALLS

Western Tanager A1

Song consists of burry rising and falling phrases.

Western Tanager A2

Slow "pit-er-ick" calls.

Similar Sounding

Black-headed Grosbeak C2

Song is a series of rising and falling warbled notes.


Voice Text

"che-ree, che-ree, che-weeu, cheweeu", "pit-r-rick"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • The Western Tanager breeds farther north than any other member of its mostly tropical family, breeding to nearly 60° N in the Northwest Territories.
  • The red pigment in the face is not produced by the bird but is acquired through their diet of insects that themselves acquire it from plants.
  • This species was first recorded on the Lewis and Clark expedition(1803-1806).
  • A group of tanagers are collectively known as a "season" of tanagers.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Michael Oberhofer

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BIRDS AND BIRDING

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UnderpartsX

Belly, undertail coverts, chest, flanks, and foreneck.

Parts of a Standing bird X
Head Feathers and Markings X
Parts of a Flying bird X