Western TanagerPiranga ludoviciana

adult male, breeding
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female
Glenn Bartley/VIREO
adult female
Brian E. Small/VIREO
adult male, breeding
Brian E. Small/VIREO
juvenile male (1st spring)
Brian E. Small/VIREO
Western Tanager
Western Tanager



6-7 1/2" (15-19 cm). Adult male has brilliant red head, bright yellow body, with black back, wings, and tail. 2 wing bars; smaller uppermost bar yellow, lower one white. Female is yellow-green above, yellow below; wing bars similar to male's.


Song is robin-like in its short fluty phrases, rendered with a pause in between. The quality is much hoarser, however. Call is a dry pit-r-ick.


short songs & calls #1
dawn song
immature calls
calls #1
calls #2
short songs & call #2


Open coniferous forests.


Breeds from southern Alaska and Mackenzie southward. Winters in tropics.


In late spring and early summer the Western Tanager, first recorded on the Lewis and Clark expedition (1803-1806), feeds on insects, often like a flycatcher, from the high canopy. Later it feeds on berries and other small fruits.


3-5 bluish-green, speckled eggs in a frail, shallow saucer nest of woven rootlets, weed stalks, and bark strips, "saddled" in the fork of a horizontal branch of Douglas fir, spruce, pine, or occasionally oak, usually at a low elevation.

Similar Species

adult male, Western

Yellow-breasted Chat

6 1/2-7 1/2" (17-19 cm). The size of a large sparrow. Olive green above, with bright yellow breast and white abdomen.

adult male

Hepatic Tanager

7-8" (18-20 cm). Male is a subdued orange-brick color, darker than Summer Tanager. Both sexes have dark bill and ear patch.

adult male, breeding

Scarlet Tanager

7 1/2" (19 cm). In breeding plumage, male brilliant scarlet with black wings and tail. In nonbreeding plumage, female and male olive green; male has black wings.

adult male, Eastern

Summer Tanager

7-8" (18-20 cm). Male solid rose-red with pale bill. Female pale olive green above, dull yellow below. Male Northern Cardinal has black face, conical red bill, and crest. See Hepatic Tanager.

adult male, breeding

American Goldfinch

4 1/2-5" (11-13 cm). Smaller than a sparrow. Breeding male bright yellow with a white rump, black forehead, white edges on black wings and tail, and yellow at bend of wing.

adult male

Flame-colored Tanager

7 3/4"(20cm) The well-named Flame-colored Tanager occasionally visits pine-oak forests of southeastern Arizona mountains, where it has nested on rare occasions and has hybridized with Western Tanager.


iPad Promo