Western Tanager

Piranga ludoviciana
Range Map

The Western Tanager’s breeding habitat is coniferous or mixed woods across western North America from the Mexico-USA border as far north as southern Alaska. These birds spend winters in Mexico and Central America.

Knowledgeable birders know these and other birds love to eat fruit; especially during migration. Orange halves stuck on nails or speared on pruned branches of trees were a common sight on South Padre Island, and other well-known stopover locations in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Orioles of all kinds especially enjoyed spending time at these offerings. Tanagers of all kinds, including those Western Tanagers passing through, also appreciated the food source. Bird watchers and bird photographers appreciated the opportunity to watch a variety of species, as these oranges were placed in locations that brought the birds into easily viewable perches.

Until I visited south Texas during the 2021 spring migration, all my meetings were in California and Oregon. The birds I met in Texas were migrants, and the local birders were excited to meet them. Since this species is seasonally a yard bird in southern California, it didn’t generate the same level of excitement for me. Still, I recognised and enjoyed the reaction of my birding friends in south Texas.

Today’s science does not recognise any subspecies of Western Tanager (i.e. they are monotypic).

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