Fawn-breasted tanager

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Fawn-breasted tanager
Pipraeidea melanonota, Saíra-viúva, Fawn-breasted Tanager.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Thraupidae
Genus: Pipraeidea
Swainson, 1827
Species: P. melanonota
Binomial name
Pipraeidea melanonota
(Vieillot, 1819)

The fawn-breasted tanager (Pipraeidea melanonota)[2] is a species of tanager with a blue head and yellow breast. It is in the genus Pipraeidea, along with the Blue-and-yellow tanager. It occurs in the Andes of northwestern Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela, as well as in the highlands of northeastern Argentina, south Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay.


The species was first described in Rio de Janeiro in 1819 by Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot a French ornithologist, under the name Tangara melanonota.[3] Pipraeidea derives from the combination of Greek words "pipra" (small bird) and "eidos" ("likeness"); the specific name melanonota derices from "melas" (black) and "nōtos" (back).[4]

Recent DNA evidence places this species as closely related probable relation to the blue-and-yellow tanager.[4]


Two subspecies are currently recognized:[4]

  • P. m. melanonota (Vieillot, 1819), the nominate subspecies, inhabits open areas (forest borders and fields) in southeastern Brazil, eastern Paraguay, and northeastern Argentina south to Punta Indio.
  • P. m. venezuelensis (P. L. Sclater, 1857) inhabits Andean slopes or proximal areas, in Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia and northeastern Argentina.


Male and female fawn-brested tanager

The fawn-breasted Tanager has an average body length of 14 cm and can weigh 18-25 g. This species of tanager has an unusually short, wide beak, similar to the beaks of swallows, as well as short legs and tail, and long wings.[3] The most noticeable coloration of this species is its sky-blue crown and broad black mask that extends over the eyes into ear-coverts.[5] The coloration of male crown and nape is a medium blue, and the forehead, lores, ocular area and ear-coverts are deep black. The mantle and back of males are a dull blue color, the lower back and rump a bright turquoise-blue, tail dusky blue, throat and the underparts of the body are a cinnamon color. The iris is a dark red to reddish-brown color, and the bill is dusky with a lower mandible that is normally grey.[6] The female has a similar coloration but is usually duller, particularly in the crown region, and with a brownish coloration on the back. Juveniles are almost without pattern and have a dull brownish-grey coloring.[3] The fawn-breasted tanager is usually seen singly or in pairs, most often in the semi-open, but it may perch at any height.[5]

Calls consist of "see" or "swee" tones varying in sets of 4 or 5 notes sung slowly, or a higher number of notes, around a dozen, uttered in a pulsating trill pattern in a faster rhythm.[3][7]

Habitat and distribution[edit]

The range of the fawn-breasted tanager extends throughout South America, covering most of Brazil, Venezuela, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, east Paraguay, Uruguay, Northeastern Argentina, following towards the southern bank of the Río de la Plata. The species can be found in habitats along forest borders, bushy pastures, and cultivated small semi open areas with large trees and clearings with scattered trees. The elevation range that this species can tolerate varies geographically. In the Andes and Ecuador it can be found at altitudes of 1500-2500 m, with a maximum of 3000 m. In Colombia, it occurs down to 900 m, and in Venezuela to 400 m.[3]


Pipraeidea melanonota 1.jpg

The species has a mixed diet which includes vegetable matter such as berries, fruit pulp, buds, flowers and seeds, as well as insects such as moths, butterflies or larvae. It may form part of mixed species flocks and has been known to congregate at fruiting trees with other birds, but generally feeds alone.[3]

Movement and breeding[edit]

Pipraeidea melanonota -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg

The fawn-breasted tanager enagages in seasonal migration. It can be found in northern Venezuela during the months of January through June, the presumed breeding period for this species. It is present in Pacific Colombia during November through March. The populations located in southern regions, such as those located in Southern Argentina may migrate to more northern localities during the coldest months.[3]

The species constrycts well-lined cup-shaped nests, composed of moss, sticks, grass, straw fragments, and colored threads, in forest borders on the edge of pine branches, 15–20 m from the ground. The nests are concealed with epiphytes and mosses. Information on specific breeding patterns is limited, but it is known that females lay 2-3 eggs and incubate them for 12–14 days, and that nestlings remain in the nest for 18–22 days.[8]


The species is currently classified as Least Concern buy the IUCN due to its extremely large range, variety of habitats and apparently large population size.[1] Due to opening of forested areas through agriculture and other anthropogenic changes, it may be expanding its range locally.[3]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Pipraeidea melanonota". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "Pipraeidea melanonota - Avibase". Avibase. Retrieved 2016-10-01. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Del Hoyo, J.; Elliott, A.; Christie, D., eds. (2010). Handbook of the birds of the world. 16. Tanagers to New World Blackbirds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. 
  4. ^ a b c "Fawn-breasted Tanager (Pipraeidea melanonota)". Cornell Lab of Ornithology - Neotropical Birds. Retrieved 2016-10-01. 
  5. ^ a b Ridgely, R. S. (1989). The Birds of South America. 1: The Oscine Passerines. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 
  6. ^ Ridgely, R. S.; Greenfield, P. J. (2006). Birds of Ecuador: Field Guide. Jocotoco Conservation Foundation. 
  7. ^ "Fawn-breasted Tanager (Pipraeidea melanonota)". www.xeno-canto.org. Retrieved 2016-10-01. 
  8. ^ Alquezar, R.; Schwartz, B.; Schwabl, H.; Macedo, R. (2010). "Nest, eggs and nestlings of the fawn-breasted tanager (Pipraeidea melanota) in Venezuela" (PDF). Ornitologia Neotropicalvolume= 21: 615–618.