Atomic Fireball: aka Flame


We hear the Western Tanagers calling every morning and evening from late May until early August and despite the brilliant colors of the males good looks are few and far between as they move quickly in the upper story of the conifers nearby.

The brilliant red color of the Males is unique.

“While most red birds owe their redness to a variety of plant pigments known as carotenoids, the Western Tanager gets its scarlet head feathers from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin. Unable to make this substance in their own bodies, Western Tanagers probably obtain it from insects in their diet.”1

This day we got a nice look at this male, which we have fondly dubbed flame, perched in the midlevel of the trees.  What a beautiful bird.