Breeding (Alternate) plumage: Entire head red. Hindneck, rump, and underparts bright yellow. Two wingbars, upper bright yellow, lower whitish yellow. Back, wings, and tail black. Bill dull yellow. Legs and feet bluish gray. Eye dark.
Nonbreeding (Basic) plumage: Head yellowish without red or with only reddish wash. Duller yellow underparts, washed with olive green. Back feathers tipped with yellowish or olive.
• The red pigment in the face of the Western Tanager is rhodoxanthin, a pigment rare in birds. It is not manufactured by the bird, as are the pigments used by the other red tanagers. Instead, it must be acquired from the diet, presumably from insects that themselves acquire the pigment from plants
• Breeds in open coniferous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests.
• Winters in open mountain pine woodlands, second growth, and parks and gardens.
Mainly insects, also fruit.