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Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana


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Western Tanager, male
credit: Alan D. Wilson/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Thraupidae, Tanagers view all from this family

Description ADULT MALE Has black back and tail and contrasting yellow rump. Wings are black with two wing bars, upper yellow, lower white. Neck and underparts are yellow and head is flushed red. Nonbreeding male loses most of red color, retaining hint around base of bill. ADULT FEMALE Recalls nonbreeding male, but black elements of plumage are greenish gray, yellow elements are duller, red color is absent, and wing bars are thinner. JUVENILE Recalls respective sex nonbreeding adult, but is paler and less colorful overall.

Dimensions Length: 6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May- Aug) to variety of coniferous forests and mixed woodland. Winters in Central America.

Observation Tips Easy to find.

Range Northwest, California, Western Canada, Florida, Alaska, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada, Plains, New England, Southeast, Rocky Mountains, Texas, Southwest

Voice Song is a series of short, chirpy phrases; call is a rattling prrt't't.

Discussion Colorful, plump-bodied songbird. Male in particular is stunning. However, species' unobtrusive habits make it easily overlooked. Diet includes insects during breeding season (sometimes flycatches), but otherwise mainly fruit and berries. Sexes are dissimilar.