BIRDS OF THE WEST KOOTENAY

I am often asked at this time of year about a bright yellow bird with a red head. This is a Western Tanager.

Gary Davidson

Rossland News

I am often asked at this time of year about a bright yellow bird with a red head. This is a Western Tanager. The tanager family is very large; there are over 250 members. Most live in South America, with only a handful making the annual journey to North America to breed. Those that do, however, are very colourful and add a splash of brilliance to our forests.

The Western Tanager is the only species that occurs regularly in BC. This bird is almost entirely yellow, with black wings and a red-orange head. It is just a little smaller than a robin. Western Tanagers are not abundant in our area, but they do occur regularly. Despite their size and bright plumage they seem to go unnoticed by many. This may be due to their habits. They show a preference for coniferous or mixed forests and often forage high in the tree. They generally build their nests in conifers; most are at least five metres above the ground, (some very much higher). Their song is quite similar to that of the American Robin. This further helps them to “blend in” and remain unnoticed.

Only one other tanager regularly breeds in Canada. The Scarlet Tanager breeds in extreme southern Canada from eastern Manitoba east to Nova Scotia. As the name suggests this is a brilliant red bird.  The tail and wings are black. In contrast to the Western, the Scarlet Tanager prefers deciduous forests.

Of the 250 tanager species found in South America, only four regularly breed north of the Mexico-US border: the two already discussed plus the Summer Tanager and the Hepatic Tanager. The Summer Tanager is completely red in colour and is found primarily in the southeastern US. The Hepatic is largely red with greyish tones on the back and flanks and is confined to the southwest.

 

A quick glance through a book of South American birds will quickly reveal that tanagers come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and colours. The red and yellow that we see in North America is only the beginning! I have had the good fortune to visit Peru and Costa Rica in the last few years. During those trips I have seen over 50 species in the tanager family.

 

 

Just Posted

Third cannabis store in Greater Trail opens next week

The City of Trail has had six applications from non-medical pot retailers to date

Last stop: The inside story of Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure

Former employees open up about the Nelson company’s final days

How the Queen City Shuttle and Charters’ closure affected you

Here’s what readers had to say about the company’s shutdown

Craft cannabis development planned for Castlegar

Plans are underway for one of the first craft cannabis industrial parks in the province.

Annual Columbia Basin Culture tour coming up Aug 10 and 11

There are locations across the region participating

Feds lowered poverty line, reducing the number of seniors in need: documents

Liberals introduced a poverty line that was below the prior low-income cutoff

BCHL: Alberni Valley Bulldogs have been sold

Victoria company has purchased BCHL team, but will keep it in Port Alberni

“Does Kirby care?” B.C. First Nation’s group using geo-targeted ads in Houston, Texas for justice

The Heiltsuk Tribal Council has called out Kirby Corporation for the Nathan E. Stewart oil spill

Trudeau announces $79M investment for 118 more public transit buses across B.C.

Contributions from municipal to federal level to fund more buses in a bid to cut commutes

B.C. woman wins record $2.1 million on casino slot machine

‘That night was so surreal … I wasn’t able to sleep or eat for the first two days,’ she said

West Kootenay U16 Rebels take home provincial gold

West Kootenay Rebels fastball team battle hard to win the BC U16C Fastball Championship

After B.C. dad’s death, Technical Safety BC wants changes to trampoline park rules

Jay Greenwood, 46, did ‘a series of acrobatic manoeuvres prior to a fall that caused serious injury and cardiac arrest’

$900M settlement reached in class action on sexual misconduct in Canadian military

After facing criticism, the government moved to begin settlement proceedings in early 2018

Tax take stays ahead of increased B.C. government spending

Tax revenue $2.1 billion higher than budget in 2018-19

Most Read