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The Tanager that is not a Tanager

One of the most beautiful birds in North America is called Western Tanager, a bird breeding in Colorado mountains, but not on the plains, and as the name implies, it is a western U.S. species nesting in coniferous and mixed woodland mountain forests. They are regular spring migrants on the Chico, but this one was a week or so early appearing at the willow grove near headquarters. When birds were originally classified into family groups, taxonomists often used bill shape to aid in placement. All North American birds with the name tanager are now known not to be members of the Tanager Family but instead they are now placed in the Cardinal Family. All members of this group eat insects and insect larvae during summer months spent in the U.S. but switch to a fruit diet when they leave and return to the tropics or subtropics where they spend most of their lives.

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