|Green-headed tanager, Tangara seledon|
many: see text
The tanagers (singular //) comprise the bird family Thraupidae, in the order Passeriformes. The family has an American distribution. The Thraupidae are the second-largest family of birds and represent about 4% of all avian species and 12% of the Neotropical birds.
Traditionally, about 240 species of tanagers have been described, 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, some genera are expected to be relocated elsewhere. Already, species in the genera Euphonia and Chlorophonia, 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 tanager, summer tanager, and western tanager), Chlorothraupis, and Habia appear to be members of the cardinal family, and have been reassigned to that family by the American Ornithological Society.
Tanagers are small to medium-sized birds. The shortest-bodied species, the white-eared conebill, is 9 cm (4 in) long and weighs 6 g (0.2 oz), barely smaller than the short-billed honeycreeper. The longest, the magpie tanager is 28 cm (11 in) and weighs 76 g (2.7 oz). The heaviest is the white-capped tanager which weighs 114 g (4.02 oz) and measures about 24 cm (9.4 in). Both sexes are usually the same size and weight.
Tanagers are often brightly colored, but some species are black and white. Males are typically more brightly colored than females and juveniles. Most tanagers have short, rounded wings. The shape of the bill seems to be linked to the species' foraging habits.
Tanagers are restricted to the Western Hemisphere and mainly to the tropics. About 60% of tanagers live in South America, and 30% of these species live in the Andes. Most species are endemic to a relatively small area.
Most tanagers live in pairs or in small groups of three to five individuals. These groups may consist simply of parents and their offspring. these birds may also be seen in single-species or mixed flocks. Many tanagers are thought to have dull songs, though some are elaborate.
Tanagers are omnivorous, and their diets vary from genus to genus. They have been seen eating fruits, seeds, nectar, flower parts, and insects. Many pick insects off branches or from holes in the wood. Other species look for insects on the undersides of leaves. Yet others wait on branches until they see a flying insect and catch it in the air. Many of these particular species inhabit the same areas, but these specializations alleviate competition.
The breeding season is March through June in temperate areas and in September through October in South America. Some species are territorial, while others build their nests closer together. Little information is available on tanager breeding behavior. Males show off their brightest feathers to potential mates and rival males. Some species' courtship rituals involve bowing and tail lifting.
Most 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 in which they choose to build their nests and the nests' positions vary among genera. Most species nest in an area hidden by very dense vegetation. No information is yet known regarding the nests of some species.
The clutch 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 nestlings.
Phylogenetic studies suggest the true tanagers form three main groups, two of which consist of several smaller, well-supported clades. The list below is an attempt using information gleaned from the latest studies to organize them into coherent related groups, and as such may contain groupings not yet accepted by or are under review by the various ornithological taxonomy authorities. See "List of tanagers" for all the species recognized by the International Ornithological Congress; it is sortable by common name, binomial, or taxonomic sequence.
Mainly dull-colored forms
(a) Conebill and flowerpiercer group (Also contains Haplospiza, Catamenia, Acanthidops, Diglossa, Diglossopis, Phrygilus and Sicalis traditionally in the Emberizidae)[a] This group despite having a rather varied bill morphology shows marked plumage similarities. Most are largely gray, blue, or black, and numerous species have rufous underparts:
- Genus Conirostrum – typical conebills (10 species)
- Genus Oreomanes – giant conebill
- Genus Xenodacnis – tit-like dacnis
- Genus Catamenia (three species)
- Genus Diglossa – typical flowerpiercers (18 species)
- Genus Haplospiza (two species), paraphyletic with two species of sierra-finch Phrygilus
- Genus Acanthidops – peg-billed finch
- Genus Phrygilus – sierra finches (11 species)[b]
- Genus Sicalis – yellow finches (12 species), paraphyletic with Phrygilus
- Genus Sporophila – typical seedeaters (over 30 species)
- Genus Oryzoborus (six species) [c]
- Genus Dolospingus – white-naped seedeater[d]
- Genus Charitospiza – coal-crested finch
(c) "Yellow-rumped" clade:
- Genus Heterospingus (two species)
- Genus Chrysothlypis (two species)
- Genus Hemithraupis (three species)
- Genus Ramphocelus – silver-billed tanagers (nine species)
- Genus Lanio – shrike-tanagers (four species)
- Genus Eucometis – gray-headed tanager
- Genus Tachyphonus (eight species)
- Genus Trichothraupis – black-goggled tanager
- Genus Stephanophorus – diademed tanager
- Genus Coryphospingus (two species)
- Genus Volatinia – blue-black grassquit
(f) The Poospiza clade - a diverse but close-knit group containing both warbler- and finch-like forms:
- Genus Poospiza – warbling-finches (15 species)[g]
- Genus Compsospiza – mountain finches (two species)
- Genus Cnemoscopus – gray-hooded bush tanager
- Genus Hemispingus – hemispinguses (12 species)
- Genus Thlypopsis (six species)
- Genus Pyrrhocoma – chestnut-headed tanager
- Genus Cypsnagra – white-rumped tanager
- Genus Nephelornis – pardusco
(g) Grass and pampa-finches, relationships within Thraupidae are uncertain, but together form a well-supported clade:
(h) A miscellaneous and likely polyphyletic group of unplaced "tanager-finches" (which may or may not include the species called tanager-finch) whose members when studied will no doubt be relocated to other clades:
- Genus Melanodera (two species)
- Genus Rowettia – Gough Island finch
- Genus Nesospiza (three species)
- Genus Gubernatrix – yellow cardinal
- Genus Idiopsar – short-tailed finch
- Genus Piezorina – cinereous finch
- Genus Xenospingus – slender-billed finch
- Genus Incaspiza – Inca finches (five species)
- Genus Coryphaspiza – black-masked finch
- Genus Rhodospingus – crimson-breasted finch
- Genus Donacospiza – long-tailed reed finch (may be related to Poospiza)
(i) Basal forms in Group 1:
"Typical" colorful tanagers
(a) Tropical canopy tanagers:
- Genus Thraupis - T. abbas & episcopus at least[h]
- Genus Pipraeidea (fawn-breasted tanager)
- Genus Tangara (about 50 species)
- Genus Geospiza – ground finches (six species)
- Genus Camarhynchus – tree finches (five species)
- Genus Platyspiza - vegetarian finch
- Genus Certhidea – warbler-finches (two species)
- Genus Pinaroloxias – Cocos finch
- Genus Melopyrrha – (1 or 2 species)
- Genus Coereba – bananaquit - formerly placed in its own family Coerebidae[i]
- Genus Tiaris – grassquits (five species) - polyphyletic
- Genus Loxipasser – yellow-shouldered grassquit
- Genus Euneornis – orangequit
- Genus Melanospiza – St. Lucia black finch
- Genus Loxigilla – Antillean bullfinches (three species) - polyphyletic
(c) Mountain tanagers:
- Genus Cyanicterus – blue-backed tanager
- Genus Bangsia – (six species)
- Genus Buthraupis – (two species)
- Genus Cnemathraupis – (two species)
- Genus Chlorornis – grass-green tanager
- Genus Wetmorethraupis – orange-throated tanager
- Genus Anisognathus – (five species)
- Genus Dubusia – (two species)
- Genus Pseudosaltator - rufous-bellied mountain tanager[j]
(d) Typical tanagers:
- Genus Diuca (two species)
- Genus Lophospingus (two species)
- Genus Neothraupis – shrike-like tanager
- Genus Cissopis – magpie tanager
- Genus Paroaria (five or six species)
- Genus Schistochlamys (two species)
(f) Green and golden-collared honeycreepers:
- Genus Tersina – swallow tanager
- Genus Cyanerpes, the typical honeycreepers (four species)
- Genus Dacnis, the dacnises (nine species)
(h) Basal lineages within group 2:
- Genus Chlorochrysa (three species)
- Genus Parkerthraustes – yellow-shouldered grosbeak (traditionally in Cardinalidae, but biochemical evidence suggests it is a tanager)
- Genus Nemosia – (two species)
- Genus Compsothraupis – scarlet-throated tanager
- Genus Sericossypha – white-capped tanager
Thraupidae incertae sedis
- Genus Calochaetes – vermilion tanager
- Genus Catamblyrhynchus – plushcap
- Genus Urothraupis – black-backed bush tanager
- Genus Incaspiza - Inca finches (five species)
- Genus Saltator (16 species; traditionally placed in Cardinalidae, but biochemical evidence suggests they may be tanagers or a sister group)
- Genus Saltatricula – many-colored Chaco finch - usually related to one of the saltators[l]
Recently split from Thraupidae
- Genus Piranga – northern tanagers (9 species)
- Genus Habia – ant-tanagers or habias (5 species)
- Genus Chlorothraupis (3 species)
- Genus Amaurospiza (4 species; apparently very close to Cyanocompsa)
Phaenicophilidae, Hispaniolan tanagers
- Genus Microligea, green-tailed warbler
- Genus Xenoligea, white-winged warbler
- Genus Phaenicophilus (2 species)
Mitrospingidae, Mitrospingid tanagers
- Genus Mitrospingus, (2 species)
- Genus Orthogonys, olive-green tanager
- Genus Lamprospiza, red-billed pied tanager
- Genus Nesospingus – Puerto Rican tanager
- Genus Spindalis – spindalises (4 species)
- Genus Calyptophilus – chat-tanagers (2 species)
- Genus Rhodinocichla – rosy thrush-tanager
- If the presence of a free lacrimal bone as found in Haplospiza, Acanthidops, and two of the three Catamenias has any phylogenetic significance, then this clade may also include several other "tanager-finches" that share this feature.
- Probably polyphyletic
- Polyphyletic. Members of this genus are paraphyletic with various members of Sporophila.
- This species is nested within a group containing both Sporophila and Oryzoborus.
- See Group 1f.
- This species formerly placed near Passerina in the Cardinalidae is related to Phrygilus alaudinus, a tanager-finch.
- This genus is very likely polyphyletic within its clade.
- Some members of this genus paraphyletic with respect to certain Tangara
- Exact affinities uncertain but probably sister species to Tiaris olivacea in the "Tholospiza"
- Apparently close to mountain-tanagers Dubusia and Delothraupis
- May be closer to Group 1
- Apparently closest to Saltator atricollis; this species may require moving to Saltatricula.
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