2014 49¢ Western Tanager
The western tanager is one of 10 different birds pictured on the Songbirds stamps.
The medium-sized, migratory western tanager, once classified in a mostly tropical bird family and now considered part of the cardinal family, is common in much of western North America. The summer breeding months are spent as far north as southern portions of Canada’s Northwest Territories. Migration can take the species as far south as Central America in the winter months.
The western tanager prefers coniferous forests for breeding, starting as early as mid-April each year. As is common with many songbirds, the male arrives in advance to establish and defend the nest site. He and the female will form a bond, without any showy courtship. The male then guards and feeds the female as she makes a shallow nest high in the branches.
During breeding season, the male western tanager displays striking red head feathers. While most tanagers can produce their red color internally, the western tanager needs an additional external substance to create the red pigment. This chemical can be found in certain evergreen needles, which are consumed by insects that the tanager eats.
Scientists believe brighter red feathers of a western tanager may indicate a superior mate. The redder his crown, the more successful an insect hunter he must be and the more attractive he will seem.
Illustrator Robert Giusti painted the Mountain Bluebird and other songbirds in this set perched on a branch or fence post. His artwork can be seen on other stamps including: Tufted Puffins (#4737), Birds of Prey (4608-12), and a Cardinal (2480).
49¢ Western Tanager, issued to satisfy the first-class mail rate.
Issue Date: April 5, 2014
City: Dallas TX, at the Trinity River Audubon Center
Printed By: Ashton Potter (USA) Ltd.
Printing Method: Lithographed
Perforations: Serpentine Die Cut 10 ¾