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Name

  • Common Name (English): Highland Hepatic Tanager
  • Scientific Name: Piranga lutea

 

 

 

Etymology

The generic name Piranga is of indigenous origin; its meaning is unknown. The specific epithet lutea means yellow in Latin, alluding to the female tanager’s yellowish colour.

Description

The tanager is 18 cm long and weighs about 30g. The beak, which is slightly hooked, is dark in colour on the upper jaw and a little lighter on the lower jaw. The male is scarlet red with grey-ish lores. The female has an olive-yellow back, grey lores, a yellow belly and olive sides. The tanager can easily be confused with the migratory cardinal, but the latter has a yellowish bill, with sexual dimorphism.

Distribution and habitat

The highland hepatic tanager is present from Costa Rica to Bolivia. In Venezuela, it is found in the Sierra de Perijá, and in the Andes from Táchira to Lara, Falcón, Yaracuy, Sucre, Monagas, Amazonas and Bolívar. It is an uncommon resident from the foothills to cloud forests, cultivated areas and secondary forests. It is found between 450 and 2400m elevation north of the Orinoco, and between 800 and 1800m elevation south of the Orinoco.

Biology and Conservation

Tanagers usually live in pairs; it is rare to find solitary specimens or mixed flocks. They cover a wide territory daily in search of insects and fruits. They forage in the high strata of the forest -usually above 15m. They occasionally descend to the ground to dismember the insects they capture. The tanager has been observed capturing grubs of up to 10cm in length, which it hits against branches to break their shells before eating them. To a lesser extent, it consumes flowers. The nest, woven from dry grasses, is always built over 6m off the ground. The clutch consists of 2 green eggs with grey, brown or violet spots. Both parents care for the chicks.

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