Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak Fall-out

| | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0)

Another spring storm with powerful wind gusts produced a fall-out of migrating songbirds on the ranch.  In a typical spring, I may see one or two Western Tanagers in the vicinity of the ranch.  This storms produced an unprecedented flock of 15-20 Western Tanagers that included both males and females, sub-adults as well as fully mature birds.  For several days they flocked to the "buffet" of nectar feeders, oranges, and grape jelly that I had previously set up for the orioles.  At first the tanagers were intimidated by the more aggressive Bullock's Orioles, but in no time at all, they learned to hold their own at the feeders.  At meal times we witnessed a Tanagers fighting.jpgfeeding frenzy with orioles, tanagers, hummingbirds, and grosbeaks going at the feeders and at each other in order to get to the feeders.  The action was intense and dizzying to watch.

The adult male Western Tanager in breeding plumage, with his showy yellow and black feathers and bright red head, is my pick for the prettiest bird to frequent the ranch (see previous blog entry "Bird Beauties.."- May, 2009). 
tanager male on bush.jpg
 Some of the males in this flock were either sub-adults or had not yet attained their full breeding plumage; they appeared yellow-olive and dusky, with just a wash of red on the face.  
sub-adult tanagers.jpg

The females display olive-green feathers on their upperparts, and yellow to grayish white feathers on their underparts.  Both male and females wear two yellowish-white wing bars.

In addition to the tanagers, a number of Black-headed Grosbeaks made a post-storm appearance at the feeders.  Like the male Bullock's Oriole, the male Black-headed Grosbeak's plumage sports orange, black, and white, but the orange of the grosbeak is darker than the oriole, and its beak is heavy and bulky, compared to the narrow, straight oriole bill.
Grosbeak and Oriole.jpg

(Black-headed Grosbeak on left, Bullock's Oriole on the right)

The Black-headed Grosbeaks usually comes to the sunflower feeders, but the last few days, 
they have been competing with the tanagers and the orioles for the nectar, oranges, and grape jelly.                                                             
Grosbeak at jelly feeder.jpg


It is no wonder I have trouble getting anything accomplished in the spring.  I am either distracted by the amazing display of flashy birds at my feeder or occupied with replenishing the feeders that these flashy birds are frequenting.  How fortunate can one bird-loving person be?!  

In a few days the Western Tanagers and Black-headed Grosbeaks will move to higher grounds to nest.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying every minute of their visit to our ranch.
tanager in chokecherry.jpg
Tanager at jelly feeder.jpg

0 TrackBacks

Listed below are links to blogs that reference this entry: Western Tanager and Black-headed Grosbeak Fall-out.

TrackBack URL for this entry: http://www.yampavianranch.com/cgi-sys/cgiwrap/dogman/managed-mt/mt-tb.cgi/20



Walt told me what a great time he had watches all of this the other day! I hope to come out to see your place in the next couple of weeks. We had a wonderful show of the Bullock's Orioles, Western Tanagers and Cedar Waxwings at Stagecoach last spring. I am hoping for more of the same in the next couple of weeks.

Your blog is wonderful!

Steamboat Jacuzzi (HotSpring Spas and Fitness)

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Nancy published on May 25, 2010 6:26 PM.

"Wind Birds" was the previous entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


  • Bird
  • Birding
  • Family
  • Local Politics
  • Ranch


  • images
Powered by Movable Type 4.1