Western Tanager Male

The male Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) is unmistakable. He is the only tanager with strong wing bars, the anterior wing bar (median coverts) being bright yellow. Click on photos for full sized images.

The female, this one spotted in my yard last September during fall migration, is a bit tougher to identify. She has kind of an olive-grayish back and scapulars with a greenish-yellow nape and rump. From this photo you can see she has a whitish belly but yellow undertail coverts.

Western Tanager Female

They range farther north than any other tanager, arriving in California to breed usually in May.

Western Tanager Range Map

We spotted this male at Lassen Volcanic National Park last weekend where the Western Tanager nests, usually 20 feet or higher in a conifer.

Western Tanager Male

Gotta love that flaming red head.

Western Tanager Male

And a look from behind.

Western Tanager Male

The Western Tanager is only one of over 83 bird species that nest in Lassen Volcanic National Park. You can download their bird list here.

Written by Larry
Larry Jordan was introduced to birding after moving to northern California where he was overwhelmed by the local wildlife, forcing him to buy his first field guide just to be able to identify all the species visiting his yard. Building birdhouses and putting up feeders brought the avian fauna even closer and he was hooked. Larry wanted to share his passion for birds and conservation and hatched The Birder's Report in September of 2007. His recent focus is on bringing the Western Burrowing Owl back to life in California where he also monitors several bluebird trails. He is a BirdLife Species Champion and contributes to several other conservation efforts, being the webmaster for Wintu Audubon Society and the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Urban Bird Foundation. He is now co-founder of a movement to create a new revenue stream for our National Wildlife Refuges with a Wildlife Conservation Pass.