A Western Tanager is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Western Tanagers. We have also put together a list of fun Western Tanager t-shirts, Western Tanager bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird-watching items.
About Western Tanagers
The Western Tanager resembles the scarlet tanager. This bird species can be found in the northern regions of America and Canada. They nest in coniferous forests and the high mountains. When migrating the Western Tanager may be found in any suitable habitat. These habitat spots may include grasslands and deserts.
Description and Identification
Western Tanagers are beautiful songbirds that are 6.3-7.5 inches long, with a wingspan of
approximately 11.5 inches. These birds have a flame-like coloration as their heads are dark
orange, and their napes, rumps, and shoulders are yellow. Western Tanagers have black backs,
tails, and wings. The entirety of their underparts is yellow. The non-breeding plumage of Western
Tanagers are not as brightly colored. This plumage is slightly reddish with an olive tinge on its
body. In contrast to the breeding plumage of the males, female Western Tanagers have yellow
heads and olive backs. The song of Western Tanagers is not particularly pleasing as it is just a
series of disconnected phrases. “Pit-er-ick” is their characteristic call.
Western Tanager Size
Both sexes are equal in size.
Length: the birds have an average length of 7 inches.
Weight: a fully matured Western Tanager weighs an average of 26 grams
Wingspan: the Western Tanager has an average wingspan of 13 inches
Western Tanager Appearance
A fully matured Western Tanager has a pale and stout pointed bill. The belly and rump are yellow in color with light wing bars. The males have a bright red face and a yellow nape, shoulder, and rump, with black upper back, wings, and tail. The females have a yellow head and are olive on the back, with dark wings and tails.
Western Tanager Feeding
Western Tanagers consume mostly insects during the breeding season. Stinkbugs, cicadas, beetles,
dragonflies, caterpillars, grasshoppers, cane flies, and termites are insects commonly eaten by
these birds. Western Tanagers have been observed to clip off the wings of dragonflies before
swallowing them. During autumn and winter, fruits become a major part of their diet. Hawthorns,
elderberries, mulberries, serviceberries, and blackberries are some fruits that are consumed by
these birds. In the winter season, Western Tanagers can also frequent bird feeders.
These birds usually forage for food high in trees. They are extremely fast and often catch insects while in flight. The birds mainly feed on insects, fruits, and berries.
Western Tanager Habitat
The preferred breeding habitats of Western Tanagers are mixed forests and open coniferous
forests. These birds generally reside in elevations above 10,000 feet. Some trees that are
commonly used by these birds are ponderosa pines, Douglas-firs, and lodgepole pines. Other
breeding habitats occupied by Western Tanagers are forest edges, wetlands, parks, and gardens.
Sometimes, these birds can also be spotted in dense forests. The choice of habitation of Western
Tanagers become much more diverse when they are migrating. During migration, they can be
found in orchards, gardens, suburban areas, parks, scrubs, and woodlands.
The Western Tanager uses coniferous and mixed woods areas as breeding grounds. These tanagers migrate during winter to Mexico and areas of Costa Rica.
Range and Migration
Western Tanagers are medium-sized songbirds that are commonly found in the forests around
North America and Central America. These birds range from Alaska to Panama. The easternmost
part of their range is in the northwest territories in Canada, and the westernmost part of their range
is in Texas. Most populations of Western Tanagers breed in the northern tip of Canada. Some of
these birds have also been noticed breeding in their wintering grounds in South America.
Western Tanager Life and Behavior
During courtship, the male Western Tanager sings to defend its nesting territory. It then chases the female among trees till she concedes. The nest site is usually in a coniferous tree 6 meters above the ground. The nest is built by the female and is made of twigs and grass. The female lays an average of 5 eggs that are pale blue. The eggs are incubated by the female for about 12 days. When the eggs hatch, both parents take care of the young. The juveniles leave the nest about 11 days after hatching.
Western Tanager Nesting
Western Tanagers are songbirds that are seasonally monogamous. These birds form pairs before
they leaving their winter grounds for the breeding season. Male Western Tanagers do not particularly
court the females, but they aggressively defend their breeding territories. Western Tanagers
generally mature sexually by the age of 2, after which they begin to seek mates. Females choose
nesting sites and construct cup-like nests with twigs and grass. This process takes about 4-5 days.
During this process male Western Tanagers assume the responsibility of feeding their mates.
Females lay about 3-5 eggs which are incubated for an average of 13 days. Younglings of these
birds take about a month to become independent, until which they are cared for by both their
parents. Western Tanagers begin the process of migrating back to their winter grounds in August.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Western Tanagers
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Western Tanagers are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Western Tanager T-shirts
If you love the Western Tanager you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Western Tanager Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Western Tanager is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Western Tanager Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Western Tanager. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Western Tanagers
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Western Tanagers
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.