Skip to content

Injured western tanager eats well at

Western tanager

BERRY PICKER: A resident noticed a small bird fluttering along the ground by Zilinsky Road.

They picked it up and called Powell River Orphaned Wildlife Society president Merrilee Prior. Upon arrival, she identified it as a young female western tanager.

Possibly it had hit a window as its shoulder was injured and it couldn’t fly. It was a calm bird, not anxious as some birds are.

After 10 days of safe rest and a diet including plenty of blueberries, cherries and insects, it was flying well and ready to go.

Released back at Kelly Creek, it sat for two minutes on the threshold of its cage, quietly looking all around and then flew over to a thicket of huckleberry bushes, where it sat quietly for more than 20 minutes, eating and resting.

The western tanager is a versatile gleaner, gathering insects (wasps, ants, termites, stink bugs, cicadas, beetles, grasshoppers, crane flies, dragonflies, caterpillars, scale insects and sawflies) and eating berries (hawthorn, wild cherries, elderberries, blackberries, mulberries).

The female is olive green and yellow, blending into the bushes perfectly.

Quite the opposite, the male looks like a flame with an orange-red head, coal-black wings, back and tail, and brilliant yellow body. He probably gets the bright red from a rare pigment in insects called rhodoxanthin. Even so, he can be difficult to spot among the tall trees.