I'm trying to put together a few posts on the birds I saw while traveling in the Pacific Northwest, but I keep getting interrupted by beautiful birds more or less in my own backyard. I've been taking my customary walks early in the morning along the Tuolumne Parkway Trail, and there are plenty of pretty birds about, but not a lot of surprises this week. Well, except for this morning when I saw a Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana) in the oaks at the west end of the trail near the stairwell. I'm 90% sure I saw a female yesterday, but didn't get any pictures.
It's just a little bit unusual to see them on the valley floor at the height of summer. The tanagers tend to be a mountain species, and are more common in the forests of the Sierra Nevada at this time of year. They'll become more numerous next month as they start migrating south to Mexico for the winter. They are one of my favorite birds because, frankly, I'm attracted to bright coloration!