The tanagers (singular //) comprise the bird family Thraupidae, in the order Passeriformes. The family has a Neotropical distribution and is the second-largest family of birds. It represents about 4% of all avian species and 12% of the Neotropical birds.
Many: see text
Traditionally, the family contained around 240 species of mostly brightly colored fruit-eating birds. As more of these birds were studied using modern molecular techniques, it became apparent that the traditional families were not monophyletic. Euphonia and Chlorophonia, which were once considered part of the tanager family, are now treated as members of the 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 by 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.
The family Thraupidae is a member of an assemblage of over 800 birds known as the New World, nine-primaried oscines. The traditional pre-molecular classification was largely based on the different feeding specializations. Nectar-feeders were placed in Coerebidae (honeycreepers), large-billed seed-eaters in Cardinalidae (cardinals and grosbeaks), smaller-billed seed-eaters in Emberizidae (New World finches and sparrows), ground-foraging insect-eaters in Icteridae (blackbirds) and fruit-eaters in Thraupidae. This classification was known to be problematic as analyses using other morphological characteristics often produced conflicting phylogenies. Beginning in the last decade of the 20th century, a series of molecular phylogenetic studies led to a complete reorganization of the tradition families. Thraupidae now includes large-billed seed eaters, thin-billed nectar feeders, foliage gleaners as well as fruit-eaters.
One consequence of redefining the family boundaries is that for many species their common names are no longer congruent with the families in which they are placed. As of July 2020 there are 39 species with "tanager" in the common name that are not placed in Thraupidae. These include the widely distributed scarlet tanager and western tanager which are both now placed in Cardinalidae. There are also 106 species within Thraupidae that have "finch" in their common name.
A molecular phylogenetic study published in 2014 revealed that many of the traditional genera were not monophyletic. In the resulting reorganization six new genera were introduced, eleven genera were resurrected and seven genera were abandoned.
List of generaEdit
The plushcap has no close relatives and is now placed in its own subfamily. It was previously placed either in the subfamily Catamblyrhynchinae within the Emberizidae or in its own family Catamblyrhynchidae.
- Catamblyrhynchus – plushcap
The coal-crested finch is endemic to the grasslands of Brazil and has no close relatives. It is unusual in that both sexes have a crest. It was formerly placed in Emberizidae.
- Charitospiza – coal-crested finch
Two species with large thick bills. Parkerthraustes was formerly placed in Cardinalidae.
Brightly colored sexually dichromatic birds, most form single-species flocks
- Nemosia – two species
- Cyanicterus – blue-backed tanager
- Sericossypha – white-capped tanager
- Compsothraupis – scarlet-throated tanager
Grassland dwelling birds that were formerly placed in Emberizidae.
Yellow billed birds: The blue finch (Porphyrospiza caerulescens) was formerly placed in the Cardinalidae; the other species were formerly placed in Emberizidae.
- Incaspiza – five species - Inca finches
- Rhopospina – mourning sierra finch
- Porphyrospiza – three species
These species are sexually dichromatic and many have yellow and black plumage. Except for Heterospingus they have slender bills.
- Chlorophanes – green honeycreeper
- Iridophanes – golden-collared honeycreeper
- Chrysothlypis – two species
- Heterospingus – two species
- Hemithraupis – three species
Sexually dichromatic species - males have blue plumage and females are green.
Mainly arboreal with long tails and thick bills. Formerly placed in Cardinalidae.
This subfamily includes Darwin's finches that are endemic to the Galápagos Islands and Cocos Island. Most of these species were formerly placed in the Emberizidae; the exceptions are the bananaquit that was placed in the Parulidae and the orangequit that was placed in the Thraupidae. These species build domed or covered nests with side entrances. They have evolved a variety of foraging techniques, including nectar-feeding (Coereba, Euneornis), seed-eating (Geospiza, Loxigilla, Tiaris), and insect gleaning (Certhidea).
- Coereba – bananaquit
- Tiaris – yellow-faced grassquit
- Euneornis – orangequit
- Melopyrrha – three species
- Loxipasser – yellow-shouldered grassquit
- Phonipara – Cuban grassquit
- Loxigilla – two species
- Melanospiza – two species
- Asemospiza – two species
- Certhidea – two species
- Platyspiza – vegetarian finch
- Pinaroloxias – Cocos finch
- Camarhynchus – five species
- Geospiza – 9 species
Most of these are lowland species. Many have ornamental features such as crests, and many have sexually dichromatic plumage.
- Volatinia – blue-black grassquit
- Conothraupis – two species
- Creurgops – two species
- Eucometis – grey-headed tanager
- Trichothraupis – black-goggled tanager
- Heliothraupis – Inti tanager
- Loriotus – three species
- Coryphospingus – two species
- Tachyphonus – five species
- Rhodospingus – crimson-breasted finch
- Lanio – four species - shrike-tanagers
- Ramphocelus – 9 species
These species were formerly placed in Emberizidae.
- Sporophila – 41 species: seedeaters and seed finches (includes species previously assigned to Dolospingus and Oryzoborus)
Some of these species were formerly placed in Emberizidae.
- Piezorina – cinereous finch
- Xenospingus – slender-billed finch
- Cnemoscopus – grey-hooded bush tanager
- Pseudospingus – two species - hemispingus
- Poospiza – 10 species (includes species previously assigned to Hemispingus and Compsospiza)
- Kleinothraupis – five species - hemispingus
- Sphenopsis – four species
- Thlypopsis – eight species (includes species previously assigned to Hemispingus and Pyrrhocoma)
- Castanozoster – bay-chested warbling finch
- Donacospiza – long-tailed reed finch
- Cypsnagra – white-rumped tanager
- Poospizopsis – two species
- Urothraupis – black-backed bush tanager
- Nephelornis – pardusco
- Microspingus – eight species
This is a morphologically diverse group that includes seed-eaters (Nesospiza, Sicalis, Catamenia, Haplospiza), arthropod feeders (Conirostrum), a bamboo specialist (Acanthidops), an aphid feeder (Xenodacnis), and boulder field specialists (Idiopsar). Many species live at high altitudes. Conirostrum was previously placed in Parulidae, Diglossa was placed in Thraupidae and the remaining genera were placed in Emberizidae.
- Conirostrum – 11 species - conebills (includes giant conebill formerly assigned to Oreomanes)
- Sicalis – 13 species
- Phrygilus – four species - sierra finches
- Nesospiza – three species
- Rowettia – Gough finch
- Melanodera – two species
- Geospizopsis – two species: sierra finches
- Haplospiza – two species
- Acanthidops – peg-billed finch
- Xenodacnis – tit-like dacnis
- Idiopsar – four species
- Catamenia – three species - seedeaters
- Diglossa – 18 species - flowerpiecers
- Calochaetes – vermilion tanager
- Iridosornis – five species
- Rauenia – blue-and-yellow tanager
- Pipraeidea – fawn-breasted tanager
- Pseudosaltator – rufous-bellied mountain tanager
- Dubusia – two species - mountain tangers (includes chestnut-bellied mountain tanager formerly assigned to Delothraupis)
- Buthraupis – hooded mountain tanager
- Sporathraupis – blue-capped tanager
- Tephrophilus – masked mountain tanager
- Chlorornis – grass-green tanager
- Cnemathraupis – two species - mountain tangers
- Anisognathus – five species - mountain tangers
- Chlorochrysa – three species
- Wetmorethraupis – orange-throated tanager
- Bangsia – six species
- Lophospingus – two species - crested finches
- Neothraupis – shrike-like tanager
- Diuca – diuca finch
- Gubernatrix – yellow cardinal
- Stephanophorus – diademed tanager
- Cissopis – magpie tanager
- Schistochlamys – two species
- Paroaria – six species: cardinals
- Ixothraupis – five species
- Chalcothraupis – golden-naped tanager
- Poecilostreptus – two species
- Thraupis – seven species
- Stilpnia – 14 species
- Tangara – 27 species
Genera formerly placed in ThraupidaeEdit
- Piranga – 9 species - northern tanagers
- Habia – five species - ant-tanagers or habias
- Chlorothraupis – three species
- Amaurospiza – four species
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