Western Tanager,Piranga ludoviciana. (Plate 11.4) Male length 6 1/4 in (16 cm), female length 6 1/4 in (16 cm); male weight 1 oz (27.5 g), female weight 1 oz (27.8 g). Relatively common summer resident in the White-Inyo Range, from 6,750 to 9,800 ft (2,060 to 2,990 m).
This species shuns open Singleleaf Pinyon as breeding habitat in favor of the larger conifers occurring at higher elevations. Occasionally, however, tall pinyon trees intermixed with Mountain Mahogany, as well as aspen, may be used for nesting. Pinyon Woodland is visited much more extensively when the birds are migrating, which may occur well into June. Western Tanagers forage for wasps, ants, beetles, and other insects in the pine canopies, either by picking the insects from the branches and foliage or by snapping them from the air during short jaunts from their perches. Other foods, particularly fruits, are eaten by postbreeding or migrating individuals. Nests of twigs and fine roots are placed on the outer ends of large limbs, from middle heights to the top of the canopy. Although this species prefers the security afforded by dense conifer foliage, dead limbs or trees are known to be used. Brightly colored males are easily spotted by flashes of yellow as they traverse openings in the forest. The short, melodious, languid warble given by the male, or the short pit-er-ic call uttered by both sexes, also announces the presence of the species. Reference: Grinnell and Storer (1924).