were traditionally about 240 species of tanagers, but the taxonomic
treatment of this family's members is currently in a state of flux. As more of
these birds are studied using modern molecular techniques it is expected that
some genera may be relocated elsewhere. Already species in the genera Euphonia
which were once considered part of the tanager family, are now treated as
members of Fringillidae,
in their own subfamily (Euphoniinae).
Likewise the genera Piranga
(which includes the Scarlet
appear to be members of the Cardinal
family, and have been reassigned to that family by the AOU.
are small to medium-sized birds. The shortest-bodied species, the White-eared
is three point eight inches long and weighs seven grams, barely smaller than the
The longest, the Magpie
is eleven inches and weighs two point seven ounces. The heaviest is the
which weighs four ounces and measures about eight point seven inches. Both sexes
are usually the same size and weight. Tanagers are often brightly colored, but
some species are black and white. Birds in their first year are often duller or
a different color altogether. Males are typically more brightly coloured than
tanagers have short, rounded wings. The shape of the bill
seems to be linked to the species' foraging
are restricted to the New
and mainly to the tropics.
About 60% of tanagers live in South America, and 30% of these species live in
Most species are endemic
to a relatively small area.
tanagers live in pairs or in small groups of 3-5 individuals. These groups may
consist simply of parents and their offspring. Birds may also be seen in single
species or mixed flocks. Many tanagers are thought to have dull songs,
though some are elaborate.
and their diet varies from genus to genus. They have been seen eating fruits,
flower parts and insects. Many pick insects off branches. Other species look for
insects on the underside of leaves. Yet others wait on branches until they see a
and catch it in the air. Many of these particular species inhabit the same
areas, but these specializations alleviate
breeding season begin in March through until June in temperate areas and in
September through October in South
Some species are territorial while others build their nests closer together.
There is little information on tanager breeding behavior or whether they are
Males show off their brightest feathers to potential mates and rival males. Some
species' courtship rituals involve bowing and tail
tanagers build cup nests on branches in trees. Some nests
are almost globular. Entrances are usually built on the side of the nest. The
nests can be shallow or deep. The species of the tree they choose to build their
nest in and the nest's position varies among genera. Most species nest in an
area hidden by very dense vegetation. There is still no information on the nests
of some species.
size is three to five eggs.
The female incubates the eggs and builds the nest, but the male may feed the
female while she incubates. Both sexes feed the young. Five species have helpers
assist in feeding the young. These helpers are thought to be the previous year's
tanager group has many very brightly coloured birds but the one that stole my
heart was none other than a buff tanager, he entertained me royally on my 50th
He danced - he sang
He shook his booty
He tidied - he posed
He scratched - he looked cute
Then he got ready to go about his business
ALL IN ALL A CUTE SPECIES OF