Western Tanager

It’s a sight to behold: On migration, flocks of Western Tanagers pass through valleys, plains and foothills. They nest mostly in the mountains, in firs and pines, often at high elevations.


Dave Ryan
Western Tanager
Dan Verrips
Western Tanager


Western Tanager
Dave Ryan Western Tanager

Scientific Name: Piranga ludoviciana.
Family: Cardinal.
Length: 7-1/4 inches.
Wingspan: 11-1/2 inches.
Distinctive Markings: Male has a yellow body, black wings with prominent white bars, and a red head in breeding season ( duller in winter). Female is yellow with a gray back.
Nest: Three to five bluish-green eggs with irregular brown spots are laid in a loose nest of twigs high in a tree.
Voice: Short whistled phrases, similar in quality to a robin’s song.
Habitat: Evergreen forests in summer; any kinds of woodlands, riversides, or even deserts during migration.
Diet: Insects and fruit.
Backyard Favorites: Dried fruit, oranges, sugar water and native plants to attract bugs.

Bird Song & Range Map

Listen to the Western Tanager’s song and learn where to spot them!

Bird songs provided by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Western Tanager Bird SpeciesRange maps provided by Kaufman Field Guides, the official field guide of Birds & Blooms.

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.