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Thraupidae

Thraupidae (tanagers; class Aves, order Passeriformes) A family of fairly small, brightly coloured birds, which have short to medium, rather conical bills, short to long wings, short to medium-length tails, and short legs. The nine Piranga species are typical, mainly red birds, some males of which have black wings, white wing bars, and yellow, grey, or green bodies; the females are yellow-green; many Tangara species, of which there are about 47, are brilliant blue with black face patches. Tanagers inhabit forests and bushes, feed on fruit and insects, and nest in trees and bushes. The nests of euphonias (25 Euphonia species) are enclosed with a side entrance and built in trees. There are 57 genera in the family, with about 250 species, many kept as cage birds, found in N., Central, and S. America.

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tanager

tanager (tăn´əjər), any of the small, migratory perching birds of the family Thraupidae, chiefly of the tropical New World. Only five species migrate to North America; of these the scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea) has the widest range in the United States. It is about 7 in. (18 cm) long. As in most tanagers, only the male has brilliant plumage; it is scarlet with black wings, tail, and beak. The song of the scarlet tanager is less melodious than that of the rosy-red summer tanager (P. rubra) of the South. The male western, or Louisiana, tanager (P. ludoviciana) is yellow, black, and red. Females of these species are olive green above and yellow below. Darwin's finches, originally classified as finches, are in fact members of the tanager family. Tanagers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Thraupidae.

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tanager

tanager Small, brightly coloured, American forest bird with a cone-shaped bill. Tanagers feed on insects and fruit. The scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea) of e North America has black on its wings and tail. Family Emberizidae.

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tanager

tan·a·ger / ˈtanəjər/ • n. a small American songbird (Tangara and other genera) of the bunting family, the male of which typically has brightly colored plumage.

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tanager

tanager bird of the family Thraupidae. XIX. alt. of Tupi tangara (current in Eng. use XVII-XIX).

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tanagers

tanagers
1. See THRAUPIDAE.

2. (swallow-tanager, Tersina viridis) See TERSINIDAE.

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tanager

tanagerbludger, grudger, nudger, trudger •indulger •blunger, conjure, expunger, plunger, sponger •astrologer, mythologer •tanager • onager • massager • potager •merger, perjure, purger, scourger, urger, verdure, verger

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Tanagers

Tanagers

North american tanagers

Tanagers elsewhere

Resources

Tanagers are 239 species of extremely colorful, perching birds that make up the family Thraupidae. The evolutionary history and phylogenetic relationships of the tanagers and related birds are not well understood. Recent taxonomic treatments have included the tanagers as a subfamily (Thraupinae) of a large family of New World birds, the Emberizidae, which also includes the wood warblers, cardinals, sparrows, buntings, blackbirds, and orioles. Whether the tanagers are treated as a family or as a subfamily, they nevertheless constitute a distinct group of birds.

Tanagers are birds of forests, forest edges, and shrublands. Species of tanagers occur from temperate southern Alaska and Canada south to Brazil and northern Argentina. Almost all species, however, breed or winter in the tropics. Tanagers that breed in temperate habitats are all migratory, spending their non-breeding season in tropical forests. In the ecological sense, these migratory tanagers should be viewed as tropical birds that venture to the temperate zone for a few months each year for the purpose of breeding.

Tanagers are small birds, ranging in body length from 3-12 in (8-30 cm), and are generally smaller than 8 in (20 cm). Their body shape is not particularly distinctive, but their brilliant colors are. The plumage of tanagers can be quite spectacularly and extravagantly colored in rich hues of red, crimson, yellow, blue, or black, making these among the most beautiful of all the birds. In most species, the female has a more subdued coloration than the male.

Tanagers feed in trees and shrubs on fruit, seeds, and nectar; their diet may also include insects and other invertebrates.

Tanagers defend a territory during the breeding season. An important element of their defense is song, and some species are accomplished vocalists, although tanagers are not renowned in this respect. The female builds a cup-shaped or domed nest. She also incubates the one to five eggs. In general, tropical tanagers lay fewer eggs than species that breed in the temperate zone. The female tanager is fed by the male during her egg-incubating seclusion. Both parents tend and feed their young.

North american tanagers

Four species of tanagers are native breeders in North America, and a fifth species has been introduced. Mature males of all of the native species are brightly colored, while the females and immature males are a more subdued olive-green or yellow color.

The western tanager (Piranga ludovicianus ) breeds in conifer and aspen forests of western North America, as far north as southern Alaska. The male has a red head and a yellow body, with black wings and tail.

The scarlet tanager (P. olivacea ) breeds in mature hardwood and mixed-wood forests, and also in well-treed suburbs of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. The male has a brilliantly scarlet body with black wings and tail. The scarlet tanager winters in tropical forests in northwestern South America. This species is sometimes kept as a cagebird.

The summer tanager (P. rubra ) occurs in oak and oak-pine forests and riparian woodlands of the eastern and southwestern United States. Male summer tanagers have an bright red body with slightly darker wings.

The hepatic tanager (P. flava ) is a bird of oak-pine, oak, and related montane forests in the southwestern United States, as well as suitable habitats in Central and South America. The male of this species is a bright brick-red color, rather similar to the summer tanager. However, the hepatic tanager has a heavier, dark bill and a dark patch on the cheeks.

The blue-gray tanager (Thraupis virens ) is a native species from Mexico to Brazil, but it has been introduced to the vicinity of Miami, Florida. This species has a brightly hued, all-blue body, with wings and tail of a darker hue. The male and the female are similarly colored in the blue-gray tanager.

Tanagers elsewhere

There are hundreds of species of tanagers in the American tropics. All of them are brilliantly and boldly colored, and they are extremely attractive birds. Because of their habitatusually areas with thick vegetationtheir beauty is not always easily seen. One of the showiest species is the paradise tanager (Tangara chilensis ) of southern South America, a brilliant bird with a crimson rump, purple throat, bright blue belly, and black back.

Although tanagers are not known for their singing ability, one of the more prominent singers is the blue-hooded euphonia (Euphonia musica ), a wide-ranging species that occurs from Mexico to Argentina. This attractive bird has a bright yellow belly and rump, a sky blue cap, and a black throat, wings, back, and tail.

Some species of tanagers of deep, old-growth tropical forests are still being discovered. Hemispingus parodii was only discovered in a Peruvian jungle in 1974.

Resources

BOOKS

Beadle, David, and James D. Rising. Tanagers, Cardinals and Finches of the United States and Canada: The Photographic Guide. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Farrand, J., ed. The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding. New York: Knopf, 1983.

Forshaw, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Birds. 2nd ed. New York: Academic Press, 1998.

Bill Freedman

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Tanagers

Tanagers

Tanagers are 239 species of extremely colorful, perching birds that make up the family Thraupidae. The evolutionary history and phylogenetic relationships of the tanagers and related birds are not well understood. Recent taxonomic treatments have included the tanagers as a subfamily (Thraupinae) of a large family of New World birds, the Emberizidae, which also includes the wood warblers , cardinals, sparrows, buntings, blackbirds , and orioles . Whether the tanagers are treated as a family or as a sub-family, they nevertheless constitute a distinct group of birds.

Tanagers are birds of forests , forest edges, and shrublands. Species of tanagers occur from temperate southern Alaska and Canada south to Brazil and northern Argentina. Almost all species, however, breed or winter in the tropics. Tanagers that breed in temperate habitats are all migratory, spending their non-breeding season in tropical forests. In the ecological sense, these migratory tanagers should be viewed as tropical birds that venture to the temperate zone for a few months each year for the purpose of breeding.

Tanagers are small birds, ranging in body length from 3-12 in (8-30 cm), and are generally smaller than 8 in (20 cm). Their body shape is not particularly distinctive, but their brilliant colors are. The plumage of tanagers can be quite spectacularly and extravagantly colored in rich hues of red, crimson, yellow, blue, or black, making these among the most beautiful of all the birds. In most species, the female has a more subdued coloration than the male.

Tanagers feed in trees and shrubs on fruit, seeds , and nectar ; their diet may also include insects and other invertebrates .

Tanagers defend a territory during the breeding season. An important element of the defense is song, and some species are accomplished vocalists, although tanagers are not renowned in this respect. The cup-shaped or domed nest is built by the female. She also incubates the 1-5 eggs. In general, tropical tanagers lay fewer eggs than species that breed in the temperate zone. The female tanager is fed by the male during her egg-incubating seclusion. Both parents tend and feed their young.


North American tanagers

Four species of tanagers are native breeders in North America , and a fifth species has been introduced. Mature males of all of the native species are brightly colored, while the females and immature males are a more subdued olive-green or yellow color .

The western tanager (Piranga ludovicianus) breeds in conifer and aspen forests of western North America, as far north as southern Alaska. The male has a red head and a yellow body, with black wings and tail.

The scarlet tanager (P. olivacea) breeds in mature hardwood and mixed-wood forests, and also in well-treed suburbs of the eastern United States and southeastern Canada. The male has a brilliantly scarlet body with black wings and tail. The scarlet tanager winters in tropical forest in northwestern South America . This species is sometimes kept as a cagebird.

The summer tanager (P. rubra) occurs in oak and oak-pine forests and riparian woodlands of the eastern and southwestern United States. Male summer tanagers have an bright red body with slightly darker wings.

The hepatic tanager (P. flava) is a bird of oak-pine, oak, and related montane forests in the southwestern United States, as well as suitable habitats in Central and South America. The male of this species is a bright brick-red color, rather similar to the summer tanager. However, the hepatic tanager has a heavier, dark bill and a dark patch on the cheeks.

The blue-gray tanager (Thraupis virens) is a native species from Mexico to Brazil, but it has been introduced to the vicinity of Miami, Florida. This species has a brightly hued, all-blue body, with the wings and tail a darker hue. The male and the female are similarly colored in the blue-grey tanager.


Tanagers elsewhere

There are hundreds of species of tanagers in the American tropics. All of them are brilliantly and boldly colored, and are extremely attractive birds. Because of their habitat—usually areas with thick vegetation, their beauty is not always easily seen. One of the showiest species is the paradise tanager (Tangara chilensis) of southern South America, a brilliant bird with a crimson rump, purple throat, bright blue belly, and black back.

Tanagers are not known for their singing ability. One of the more prominent singers, however, is the blue-hooded euphonia (Euphonia musica), a wide-ranging species that occurs from Mexico to Argentina. This attractive bird has a bright yellow belly and rump, a sky blue cap, and a black throat, wings, back, and tail.

Some species of tanagers of deep, old-growth tropical forests are still being discovered. Hemispingus parodii was only discovered in a Peruvian jungle in 1974.


Resources

books

Farrand, J., ed. The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding. New York: Knopf, 1983.

Forshaw, Joseph. Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Academic Press, 1998.


Bill Freedman

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