• Skip to Content
  • Skip to Main Navigation
  • Skip to Local Navigation
  • Skip to Search
  • Skip to Sitemap
  • Skip to Footer
Help develop a Bird ID tool!

Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: CARDINALIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Despite its striking markings of red, yellow, and black, the slow-moving Western Tanager is a surprisingly inconspicuous bird of the western forests.

2014 FestivalSponsored Ad
Learn About Celebrate Urban Birds!

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
6.3–7.5 in
16–19 cm
Weight
0.8–1.3 oz
24–36 g
Other Names
  • Tangara à tête rouge (French)
  • Tángara capucha roja (Spanish)

Cool 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 of the Western Tanager is rhodoxanthin, a pigment rare in birds. It is not manufactured by the bird, as are the pigments used by the other red tanagers. Instead, it must be acquired from the diet, presumably from insects that themselves acquire the pigment from plants.

Habitat


Forest

  • Breeds in open coniferous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests.
  • Winters in open mountain pine woodlands, second growth, and parks and gardens.

Food


Insects

Mainly insects, also fruit.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
1–5 eggs
Egg Description
Bluish green spotted with brown.
Condition at Hatching
Helpless with long down on head, back and wings.
Nest Description

Nest a flimsy, shallow open cup of twigs, grasses, bark strips, and rootlets, lined with grass, hair, or fine plant fibers. Placed in trees on top of branch well out from trunk.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Foliage Gleaner

Moves slowly and deliberately through foliage. Also flycatches. Comes to feeders for fruit.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Not threatened or endangered.

Credits

  • Hudon, J. 1999. Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana). In The Birds of North America, No. 432 (A. Poole and F. Gill, eds.). The Birds of North America, Inc., Philadelphia, PA.

Range Map Help

Western Tanager Range Map
View dynamic map of eBird sightings