Sunday, October 11, 2015

Bulletin 237 - Best of 10 years - Tanagers

The tanager family (thraupidae) is a large New World family of 368 species. Many of them are brightly colored and most are in the tropics. The famous Darwin's 'finches' of the Galapagos are also tanagers. Unfortunately, except for a couple of vagrants, there are no longer any tanager family birds in North America, as the Scarlet, Summer and Western Tanagers have been reclassified and placed in the cardinal family.

These photos have been taken over the past 2 years in Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and the Caribbean. The Crimson-collared Tanager is perhaps my favorite of the tanager photos.

Crimson-collared Tanager - male
The Blue-Gray Tanager is found widely in the tropics and most birders have seen it. It is also readily attracted to banana feeders.

Blue-gray Tanager
Another blue one is the Masked Flowerpiercer. He is distinctive with his red eye and black mask.

Masked Flowerpiercer - male
The Red-legged Honeycreeper is an even brighter blue. This is another very common bird in the tropics.

Red-legged Honeycreeper - male
Among yellow birds, the Saffron Finch is a bird of South America, but it has also been introduced in Hawaii where this photo was taken.

Saffron Finch - male
The Golden Tanager is another South American bird. 

Golden Tanager
The Silver-throated Tanager is yellow with a silver throat and black streaking on the back.

Silver-throated Tanager

The male Green Honeycreeper is almost iridescent. The black face and yellow bill confirm the ID. The birds in Ecuador like this one are more a blue-green then green.

Green Honeycreeper - male
The Green-and-gold Tanager is mostly green bodied with black streaking.

Green-and-gold Tanager

The Bay-headed Tanager is a sentimental favorite of mine. On my first trip to Costa Rica in 1994, it was one of the birds on the cover of the Costa Rica bird book, so I was familiar with the colors. On the first morning of the trip, we drove to a national park and the first bird I saw when I stepped out of the van was one of these!

Bay-headed Tanager
Lastly is the Hispaniolan Spindalis. This is one of 4 Caribbean species that was split from what was known as the Stripe-headed Tanager until the split about 15 years ago. I got a nice photo with him eating a berry.

Hispaniolan Spindalis - male
I hope that everyone gets a chance to visit the tropics and see some of these beautiful birds.

Happy birding and photography,

David McDonald

photos copyright 2006 - 2015 David McDonald

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