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Western Tanager

These "red heads" are the most colorful birds in Montana. Western tanagers are the northern-most bird of the 242 tanager species—at least in the summer. Their breeding grounds range across the northwest U.S. and parts of Canada; in winter, they migrate to Mexico and South America.

Western Tanager
Piranga ludoviciana

They have black backs, tails and wings; their heads are a bright crimson and their underparts are yellow. (Males tend to be more brightly colored than the females.) Western tanagers prefer conifer forests at lower elevations. They nest in pines and feed mainly on insects in the spring and summer; in the fall, they prefer berries. Their song is short and flute-like, similar to a robin's. Western tanagers are a Montana favorite, and they aren't difficult to spot because of their bright colors.