Monday, May 24, 2010

Tanagers and Orioles

It's a great time of year to see two of Idaho's most colorful birds: the Western tanager and Bullock's oriole.

These beautiful species are quite common, if you know where to look.

The Western tanager (above) prefers forested habitat, although you may also see them in brushy habitat along streams. This species is found farther north than most tanagers, which are most associated with tropical environments. I find them to be one of the most striking birds, particulary when they have bright red facial markings.

Interestingly, according to the Cornell Lab or Ornithology, the tanagers don't manufacture this red pigment. Instead, they acquire it from their diet--from insects that ingest it from plants.

The Bullock's oriole (below) thrives amongst streamside vegetation. For instance, look for them in the willows at Silver Creek Preserve. The Idaho Birding Blog has some excellent information (and photos) on orioles around Boise, where they're also quite common.

Both of these colorful birds eat insects and fruits. You can attract them to your backyard by hanging or impaling old apples near your bird feeder. If orioles or tanagers are around, they'll find the fruit.
Photos: Western tanager by nature's pic's licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. Bullock's Oriole by Kevin Cole licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

1 comment:

Idaho Birder said...

Thanks for the mention! I had a great day of birding today and was able to get share-able photos of a Western Tanager, a Sora, Wilson's Phalarope, and Evening Grosbeak.