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Nature in it's glory

Nature in it's glory

Aug 11, 2011

Western Tanager

Male Tanager perched at the top
Despite near constant rain and the fact that I never left my neighborhood, I had a couple of excellent bird watch outings this week.  The birds are on the move, so I have been keeping an eye on the little forest just down the street.   I was delighted when I discovered just lately, that it is occupied with more than the usual number of birds.  However, many of these birds are just visiting.  Whereas the little forest was occupied with Yellow Warblers one day, the next day one or two totally different species took their place.  One of these species is the Western Tanager.

Western Tanager Male

The Western Tanager prefers the very tops of the trees to forage and nest in.   This means they are not always seen.  I was lucky that this one decided to come down to the lower levels for me to notice and photograph.

The Western Tanager has striking marking of red, yellow and black.  The red covers the head and face of the male. The yellow graces their nape, underparts, shoulders, and rump.  His wings are black with two very bright wing bars.

This is a bird of coniferous or mixed forest, ranging from the Mexican US border, through Canada, and all the way to southern Alaska.  They winter from central Mexico to Costa Rica, and sometimes southern California.  When they migrate it is either on their own, or in groups of about thirty individuals.

Tanager Male foraging
Western Tanager Female

The Western Tanager eats primarily insects, that apparently feed on plant matter which gives this bird it's red coloring.  They forage mostly in the canopy of the forests that they occupy.  Although they will, on occasion, feed on fruit in the lower levels.


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