Birds of the World

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ANECDOTES

  Tanagers
 
 
 

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 9-prim. Oscines

   Fringillines
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Passeriformes, Oscines, Passerida, Passeroidea - Tanagers
 
Skip to:   
Passerida, Passeroidea, Nine-primaried Oscines
Family: Tanagers
 
Images:   
Blye-gray Tanager, Turquoise Tanager, Silver-beaked Tanager, Blue Dacnis,
Purple Honeycreeper, Green Honeycreeper, Red-legged Honeycreeper
   
  Order Passeriformes - Perching Birds
   Suborder Passeres - "Oscines," Song Birds
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Wiki     ToL
  Passerines. Most passerines are smaller than members of non-passerine orders. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and the one (the hallux) backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young are altricial - they hatch blind with little or no down - and nidicolous - spending 10-15 days or so in the nest.  Subsequent development is rapid and young approach adult mass at fledging. Parents provide care beyond fledging.
Oscines, Suborder Passeres, are our "song birds" with complex syringeal muscles used to produce varied and complex vocalizations.
Passerida. Radiation in Eurasia, Africa and North America (with later colonization of South America). Passerida have two humeral fossae (Corvida have one).
Passeroidea - herbivores (many seed-eaters) centered in the Palearctic and New World. Many are bright and sexually dimorphic.
Nine-primaried Oscines. Nine functional primaries in the wing.
 
  Family Cardinalidae (Thraupidae) – Tanagers,
       Swallow Tanager, Neotropical Honeycreepers,
       Plushcap, Tanager Finch, Seedeaters, Flower-piercers
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EXAMPLE
  Both the AOU and ABA now place tanagers and cardinals in the Family Cardinalidae. South American cardinals (Paroaria) remain in the Family Thraupidae (Wiki). However, we are so used to considering Tanagers as a familiar and separate family, I will leave them separated for now.
  413 sp, 104 genera Sibley and Monroe (1990). They include the Neotropical honeycreepers, Swallow Tanager, Plushcap, seedeaters, and tanager-finches in this group. Clements (2007) lists 226 species of Tanagers. Dickinson (2003) lists 202 species, 50 genera. Harris (1990) lists 271 species in 62 genera. Note that the contents of this family are in flux. Forested North America, all of South America.

   Current study (Wiki) suggests that tanagers form three main groups:
      (1) Dull-colored forms -
         (a) Conebill and flowerpiercer group - gray, blue or black, many with rufous underparts
         (b) Seedeaters (usually placed in Emberizidae (Sporophila, Oryzoborus, Dolospingus,
               Charitospiza
)
         (c) Yellow-rumped clade
         (d) Crested clade (including Corphospingus, Volatinia from the Emberizidae)
         (e) Blue finch clade
         (f) Poospiza clade - warbler and finch-like forms
         (g) Grass and Pampa-finches
         (h) Tanager Finches - polyphyletic group needing study
         (i) Basal forms in group 1 (Conothraupis, Orchesticus, Creurgops)
     (2) Typical colorful tanagers
         (a) Tropical canopy feeders (Thraupis, Tanagara)
         (b) "Tholospiza" - Darwin's finches, grassquits, atypical honeycreepers, some seedeaters (some
                moved from Emberizidae)
         (c) Mountain tanagers
         (d) Typical tanagers (Thraupis, Pipraeidea, Irdosornis)
         (e) Typical multicolored tanagers (including Paroaria from Emberizidae/Cardinalidae)
         (f) Green and golden-collared honeycreepers
         (g) Typical honeycreepsrs (Tersina, etc.)
         (h) Basal linages in group 2 (Chlorochyrsa, Parkerthraustes, Nemosia, Compsothraupis,
              Sencossypha
)
     (3) Saltators (Saltator, Saltatricula)
     Thraupidae incertae sedis (16 species)
   Recent studies suggest that Chlorospingus (bush-tanagers - ~10 spp) should be moved to Emberizidae and that Piranga (northern tanagers - 9 spp), Habia (ant tanagers - 5 spp), Chlorothraupis (3 spp), and Amaurospiza (4 spp) should be transfered to Cardinalidae. This would include our two tanager species (Piranga)... The genus Spindalis lies outside the tanagers but where? For the present, I will leave our tanagers in this family...

   Tanagers are small to medium-sized birds restricted to the New World tropics. Most live in pairs or small (family) groups, sometimes forming mixed flocks. They are omnivorous and have a variety of feeding strategies. Both of our eastern North American representatives are migratory and sexually dimorphic – it helps to learn their song…
   These are brightly colored birds of the New World - especially the tropics. They are closely allied to the other nine-primaried Oscines (the 10th primary is vestigial). The bill is variable but the commissure is not abruptly angled basally. They are relatively small birds with bright colors and contrasting patches of color in many. North American tanagers are generally solitary arboreal birds without a flight song. They are solitary nesters. Among the tropical species, however, individuals are often found in pairs or family groups. They may form mixed flocks than can contain a dozen species or more.
   Tanagers feed on seeds and berries. Some eat flowers or nectar. Many tropical species concentrate on small fruits but breeding tanagers in our area eat mostly insects. They forage slowly and methodically.
   Nests are mostly open cup-shaped nests in trees or shrubs. Euphonias build domed nests with a side entrance. A few nest on the ground or in tree cavities. Females do most of the nest building and incubating. They lay 2-3 eggs. Incubation lasts 12-18 days. Both parents help feed the young who fledge in 11-24 days.
  Photos by Ed Konrad

Blue-grey Tanager
Turquoise Tanager Silver-backed Tanager
 
Blue-gray Tanager, Thraupis episcopus
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
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Turquoise Tanager, Tanagra mexicana
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
Wiki     EoL     ToL
Silver-beaked Tanager, Ramphocelus carbo
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
Wiki     EoL     ToL
  Blue Dacnis

Purple Honeycreeper




Male (left)  
  Female 
   (right)

Purple Honeycreeper
 
Blue Dacnis, Dacnis cayana
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
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Purple Honeycreeper, Cyanerpes caeruleus
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
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  Green Honeycreeper Green Honeycreeper
Red-legged Honeycreeper
 
Male
Female
Red-legged Honeycreeper,
Cyanerpes cyaneus.
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
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Green Honeycreeper, Chlorophanes spiza. Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
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  Banner - Summer Tanager. Fairlawn Plantation.