Western Tanagers dart from tree to tree, on the lookout for delicious bugs. They’ll find them by scanning the tree bark — or maybe snatching them from mid-air during flight — a tactic called hawking. Come winter, these lovely songbirds head south, where they fit right in with the other brightly colored tropical birds they’ll spend the winter with in Mexico and Central America.
Western Tanagers Are Flashes of Bright Color
Written by Monica Gokey
This is BirdNote.
A male Western Tanager chirps loudly from the branch of a Douglas fir.
[beat of quick up-down-up chirp].
The tanager’s tune is as sharp as his brightly colored red head. With a yellow body jacketed in black, the Western Tanager is a flash of bright color in the coniferous forests of the West.
[Western Tanager tune, 6-8 seconds]
Sounds almost like a robin, doesn’t it?
Western Tanagers dart from tree to tree, on the lookout for delicious bugs. They find them by scanning the tree bark — or maybe snatching them from mid-air during flight -— a tactic called hawking. Nuts and fruits round out this little songbird’s diet.
The Western Tanager can breed farther north than any other North American tanager, as far up as Southeast Alaska and the Yukon.
But come winter, these little birds head south. The male’s red head fades to yellow in the off-season. Still, the tanagers’ sharp colorful suits help them fit right in with the other brightly colored tropical birds they’ll spend the winter with in Mexico and Central America.
Head on over to our website and catch more on the Western Tanager -- Bird-note-dot-org.
I’m Mary McCann.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by WETA 66861 W Gunn.
BirdNote’s theme composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Managing Producer: Jason Saul
Associate Producer: Ellen Blackstone
© 2019 Tune In to Nature.org January 2019/2020 / May 2023
Narrator: Mary McCann
ID# WETA-03-2019-01-18 WETA-03