Western Tanager 

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Piranga Ludoviciana 

Western Tanager


Males have the entire head more or less bright red, becoming yellow on neck and breast and most of the underparts.

On the upperparts, mantle, scapulars and wings are black, except for two pale wingbars formed by the bright yellow median coverts and the pale tips and edges of other feathers.

The wings are rounded. The fan-shaped tail is black.

The bill is grayish with yellowish tinge. The eyes are dark brown. Legs and feet are gray. 


Males have duller plumage. The head is duller with the red color often restricted to the face.

The back may appear mottled black.


YELLOW MORPH is similar to the males but the head is dull yellow. Back and wings are mostly gray with weak pale wingbars. The bill is paler too.

GRAY MORPH is grayer and duller, and generally more uniform. The bill is more yellowish.

Juveniles resemble females. It is sexually mature after two years.

BILL: short and thick-based.

SIZE: measures about 6.3 - 7.5 inches in length.

WEIGHT: weighs about 24 - 36 grams.

Insects, fruits and berries. 

BREEDS: Open coniferous forests and mixed woodlands.

WINTER: Open pine woodlands, parks, gardens, desert oases and orchards.

BREEDS: Southern Alaska and Western Canada, then South in Western USA (East to Wyoming and Central Colorado) to Southwestern California, Southern Arizona, New Mexico and Southwestern Texas, and extreme Northwestern Mexico (Baja California).

It migrates to Southern California (rare) and mountains of Western Mexico, South locally to Costa Rica and rarely to Western Panama.

This distribution follows the forest along the Western coasts of North and Central Americas, from Alaska all the way to Panama.

CALL: Described as "pit-er-ick".

SONG: Disconnected short phrases suggests an American robin's but is hoarser and rather monotonous.

NEST: The female builds an open, cup-shaped nest with twigs, grass and rootlets, and lined with softer material such as animal hair and fine rootlets.

EGGS: 3 - 5 pale blue to bluish-green eggs, with brown markings.

INCUBATION: 13 days.

NESTLING PHASE: 11 - 15 days.

They forage slowly and methodically along branches and among leaves or needles of trees. They eat primarily on insects, supplemented with small fruits in fall and winter.


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