A nestling western tanager was found on the ground by Edgehill School. The male parent—distressed, agitated and chattering steadily in alarm—was nearby as PROWLS president Merrilee Prior scooped up the little one. No nest was visible.
This little, almost bald nestling was barely a week old; its eyes were just open. Although initially easy to feed and care for, insectivores like this one are reluctant to begin feeding on their own. The delightful flutter of its wings, designed to attract their parents’ attention, is hard to resist.
Now, finally out on the front porch with the pine siskin, fox sparrow and three white-crowned sparrows, all are hungry for mealworms. The scramble at feeding time to find the worms first is fierce.
This young western tanager had been at PROWLS for almost a month but was still looking for a personal handout if available. Finally released, it did seem ready to begin its new life.
They also eat fruit, especially during fall and winter, when it may dominate the diet. As well as finding food, it will be looking for a flock with whom to make its first fall migration.
Western tanagers migrate at night, usually on their own or in small groups, mixing with other tanager species or with black-headed grosbeaks.