Western Tanager
(Piranga ludoviciana)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (www.pbase.com/gtepke)
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

The Western Tanager breeds in open coniferous forests and mixed woodlands in western Canada. It is best monitored in Canada by the Breeding Bird Survey, the results of which indicate a 100% increase in abundance relative to the early 1970s. Currently, there are few conservation concerns for this species. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge IncreaseHighAt an Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada1,000,000 - 5,000,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

General nesting period in Canada

Nesting period starts between late May and mid-June and ends in mid-August, depending on the region. Before or after this period, the probability of an active nest is lower.

Conservation and management

WIth its increasing population, there are few management concerns for this species. The Western Tanager is found in a wide variety of coniferous and mixed forests, and is especially numerous in those dominated by Douglas-fir (Hudon 1999). It appears to prefer older stands in coastal British Columbia and Alberta (Bryant et al. 1993, Schieck and Nietfeld 1995), but in other areas it can be common in young forests (Hudon 1999). In southern British Columbia, the Western Tanager responds positively to forest harvest techniques that favour the retention of older trees (Morgan et al. 1989).


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Boreal Taiga PlainsBoreal Taiga Plains, sub-region and priority type: Prairie and Northern -- Other
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship


  • Bryant, A.A., J.-P.L. Savard, and R.T. McLaughlin. 1993. Avian communities in old-growth and managed forests of western Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Canadian Wildlife Service Technical Report Series No. 167. Delta, BC. 115 pp.
  • Hudon, J. 1999. Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Hudon, J. 1999. Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. (Link)
  • Morgan, K.H., S.P. Wetmore, G.E.J. Smith and R.A. Keller. 1989. Relationships between logging methods, habitat structure and bird communities of the dry interior Douglas-fir, ponderosa pine forests of British Columbia. Canadian Wildllife Servive Technical Report Series no. 71. Environment Canada, Pacific and Yukon Regions.
  • Schieck, J. and M. Nietfeld. 1995. Bird species richness and abundance in relation to stand age and structure in aspen mixedwood forests in Alberta. pp. 115-157 In: Relationships Between Stand Age, Stand Structure, And Biodiversity in Aspen Mixedwood Forests in Alberta. Stelfox, J.B., Ed. Alberta Environmental Centre, Vegreville, Alberta.