Daily Postcard: Western Tanager Visits Warbler Pond

Daily Postcard: A cheerful Western Tanager with a flaming orange-red head visits a warbler pond Sunday on the grounds of a residence on Barranca Mesa. While most birds owe their redness to a variety of plant pigments known as carotenoids, the Western Tanager gets its scarlet head feathers from a rare pigment called rhodoxanthin. Unable to make this substance in their own bodies, Western Tanagers probably obtain it from insects in their diet. Around the turn of the twentieth century, Western Tanagers were thought to pose a significant threat to commercial fruit crops. One observer wrote that in 1896, ‘the damage done to cherries in one orchard was so great that the sales of the fruit which was left did not balance the bills paid out for poison and ammunition.’ Today, it is illegal to shoot native birds and Western Tanagers are safer than they were a century ago. Source: allaboutbirds.org. Photo by Selvi Viswanathan


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