English and Scientific names:

Western Tanager Piranga ludoviciana

Number of individuals: 

One, female or first fall male

Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Cameron Parish

Specific Locality:

Peveto Woods, approximately 2 miles east of Holly Beach on LA 82.

Date(s) when observed:

October 2, 2009

Time(s) of day when observed:  

Approximately 11:00 AM CDST

Reporting observer and address:

Jay V. Huner

Boyce, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Matt Pontiff - See explanation below.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)


Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Bird was in the line of the sun. It was back lit.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10 x 40 binoculars

Distance to bird(s): 

Approximately 35 yards.

Duration of observation:

Approximately half a minute.


Coastal live oak forest edge on beach.

Behavior of bird: 

The bird was moving with a feeding flock of 5-10 neotropic songbird migrants, mostly warblers. It was flying along the edge of the live oak feed lot. It stopped momentarily on a dangling vine and perched at a slight angle from vertical.


The bird was roughly 1.5 times as big as the accompanying warblers. Distinct wing bars were present with darkish wings and yellowish body and head. Bill was tanager-shaped, somewhat broad at the base and pointed at the tip and not \"long\" as one associated with orioles. It was not possible to tell the color of the primary wing bar because of back light. It was not possible to tell if the bill was misshapen as was the case with a Western Tanager photographed several days before in the same area by Tom Finnie.


Please note that I arrived at Peveto Woods at approximately 10 AM. I met Matt Pontiff at the edge of the site and we entered the live oak forest on the east side of the parking lot within about 10 minutes. Almost immediately, we spotted a flock of feeding songbirds moving away from us into the low canopy. Matt pointed out a Western Tanager. I saw that bird only long enough to note that it was significantly larger than the accompanying warblers.

Matt and I were to the east of that site around 11 AM when I focused on the Western Tanager described here. Matt did not see the bird as he was focused on other birds.

Neither Matt nor I was able to photograph the bird seen at 10 AM or the one seen at 11 AM. 


Bird was silent.

Similar species:

I saw one female type Summer Tanager was observed in the area during my visit from about 10 AM to 1 PM. It was not possible to compare it directly with the Western Tanager in terms of size. It was overall yellow in color, grayer in the wings with no wing bars, and a large bill. These characters, primarily the lack of wing bars, were used to distinguish it from the Western Tanager.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

No photos or tape recordings.

Previous experience with this species: 

I have seen a number of Western Tanagers on trips to SE Arizona in April 2004 and July 2009. I also encountered a single Western Tanager in Vermilion Parish in winter 2004 or 2005.

Identification aids:

National Geographic Field Guide, Sibley\'s Field Guide, and the Stokes Field Guide to Birds, Western Region. I reviewed images available on the internet and the several images provided by Tom Finnie.

This description is written from: 

Notes made immediately following the observation, later that day, and memory.

Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 



Date and time: 

5 October 2009, 8:30 PM, approximately.