Western tanager

Western tanager
Piranga ludoviciana
Photo by Juan Carlos Marín (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:

Order Passeriformes
Family Thraupidae

This species breeds across western North America, from Alaska down to the southern United States. They migrate south to winter in Central America, from southern Mexico down to Panama.

Western tanagers are 16-19 cm long and weigh 24-36 g.

These birds breed in open coniferous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests, from sea level up to an altitude of 3.000 m. During the winter they are found in open mountain pine woodlands, second growth, and in parks and gardens.

Western tanagers are mostly insectivorous, but also eat fruits and berries. They are known to take wasps and ants, beetles and woodborers, true bugs, grasshoppers and caterpillars. The fruits and berries eaten by western tanagers include hawthorn apples Crataegus spp., raspberries Rubus spp., mulberries Morus spp., elderberries Sambucus spp., serviceberries Amelanchier spp., and wild and cultivated cherries Prunus spp.

These birds breed in May-July. The female builds the nest cup, using twigs, rootlets, grasses, and pine needles. The female lays 3-5 bluish-green eggs with brown spots, which she incubates alone for 13 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 11 to 15 days after hatching, but remain with the parents for another 2 weeks.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population estimated at 8,9 million individuals. This species has undergone a small increase over the last 4 decades and is not considered threatened at present.

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