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Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana

Length: 7 inches Wingspan: 11.5 inches Seasonality: Summer/Migrant
ID Keys: Yellow body, black wings and tail, reddish head (male).  Female olive with darker wings, white wing bars.

Western Tanager - Piranga ludovicianaWestern Tanagers are the most northerly of the Tanagers found in North America., summering as far north as northern British Columbia.  They prefer higher elevation conifer forests for breeding, and in South Dakota, are most often found in the Black Hills.

Habitat: Prefers conifer or mixed forest and woodland.  Seems to prefer open conifer forest more than dense forest.

Diet: Primarily insects, especially early in the summer when raising young. Later during the breeding season they begin to eat more fruits and berries. 

Behavior: Primarily forages in mid to upper-levels of the forest canopy, moving through foliage or flying out from a perch to catch insects. 

Nesting: June and July

Song: Western Tanager Song

Migration: Summers in the western U.S. and Canada.  Winters in Mexico, Central America, and South America.

Interactive eBird map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Western Tanager sightings

Similar Species: Scarlet Tanager

Bird Feeders: Will come for cut fruit, nectar, and baked goods.

Conservation Status: Overall numbers currently appear to be stable, with no major threats to their population, and there are some indications that populations are increasing in parts of their range. They are common in many parts of their range, and are found over a broad geographic area. As a result, the IUCN considers the Western Tanager to be a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) BirdWeb - Western Tanager

2) WhatBird - Western Tanager

3) Audubon Guide - Western Tanager

Photo Information: August 8th, 2007 - Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming - Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Western Tanager photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Western Tanager - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant and local summer resident in the far western part of the state, particularly in the Black Hills.  Rare migrant elsewhere in the state.

Additional Western Tanager Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Western Tanager - Piranga ludovicianaWestern Tanager - Piranga ludovicianaWestern Tanager - Piranga ludoviciana