Red tanager | American birds

   ›      ›   Red tanager - Piranga flava

The red tanager (Piranga flava), also known as lowland hepatic-tanager, belongs to the family Cardinalidae.

The red tanager is distributed over Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname in South America. These species were earlier classified under the family Thraupidae. These tanagers are polytypic species.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Red Tanager Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Appearance, physical description and identification

The red tanager (Piranga flava) is a medium-sized tanager, measuring 18 to 20 cm in length and weighing 30 to 40 grams.

The male red tanager has overall reddish orange plumage. The lower neck, upper back, flanks and wing-coverts are paler. The cheek is paler and striated. The female is olive green.

The pale bluish bill is stout and sharp pointed. The legs are gray. The irises are blackish. There is a pale orange eye-ring. Their call is a repeated "tschip.. tschip.. tschip" sound.
Red tanager - Piranga flava
1.Red tanager - Piranga flava
Image by Kennedy Andrade Borges

Red tanager - Piranga flava
2.Red tanager - Piranga flava
Image by Elaine R. Wilson

Red tanager - Piranga flava
3.Red tanager - Piranga flava
Image by Tim Boyer

Origin, geographical range and distribution

The red tanager is distributed in Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Brazil, Guyana, French Guiana and Suriname in South America.

The nominate subspecies P. f. flava is distributed in Uruguay, central and north Argentina, Paraguay and eastern Bolivia. The subspecies P. f. rosacea is distributed in eastern Bolivia.

The subspecies P. f. macconnelli is distributed in southern Guyana, southern Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil. The subspecies P. f. saira is distributed in eastern and southern Brazil.

Ecosystem and habitat

The red tanager species have low forest dependence. They normally occurs in altitudes between 600 to 2000 meters. The artificial ecosystems and habitats of these species include heavily degraded forests.

The natural ecosystems and habitats of these species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, tropical and subtropical moist montane forests, deciduous forests, mangrove forests and dry savanna.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these red tanager species consists mainly of insects. Larval insects, insects, moths, caterpillars, grasshoppers, spiders, fruits, berries and figs are their primary food.

They mostly forage for insects in the middle and lower canopy. They occasionally descent to the floor to feed on insects and fallen berries.

Reproduction and breeding habits

The breeding season of these species is during November in Brazil and during October in Paraguay. These birds are monogamous and nest solitarily.

Migration and movement patterns

These tanager species are non-migratory, resident birds. The breeding populations in the southern range appear to make short-distance northwards movements.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. Within their range they may make local movements for feeding and breeding.

Red tanager - Quick Facts

  • Scientific name: Piranga flava
  • Species author: (Vieillot, 1822)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Saltator Flavus Vieillot, 1822
  • Family: Cardinalidae › Passeriformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Red tanager, Chinese: 暗红丽唐纳雀, French: Piranga orangé, German: Tieflandkardinal, Spanish: Piranga bermeja, Russian: Красная пиранга, Japanese: レンガフウキンチョウ
  • Other names: Red Tanager, Lowland Hepatic-tanager, Hepatic Tanager
  • Distribution: South America
  • Diet and feeding habits: insects, larval insects, caterpillars, spiders, fruits
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the red tanager (Piranga flava) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of the species is not known.

In most of its range, this species is reported to be common to locally common. The generation length is 4.1 years. Its distribution size is about 9,510,000

Ecosystem degradation, ecosystem conversion, agricultural expansion and trapping of juveniles and adults for pet-trade are the main threats that may endanger the survival of the tanager species.

IUCN and CITES status

The red tanager (Piranga flava) species does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion or under the population size criterion.

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the species and has listed it as of "Least Concern".

The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the red tanager (Piranga flava).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Piranga flava
Species:P. flava
Binomial name:Piranga flava
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
The red tanager (Piranga flava) is closely related to the hepatic tanager (Piranga hepatica).

The four recognized subspecies of the red tanager (Piranga flava) are:
P. f. flava (Vieillot, 1822),
P. f. rosacea Todd, 1922,
P. f. macconnelli C. Chubb, 1921 and
P. f. saira (Spix, 1825).
Popular posts in Bird World
Chestnut-winged cuckoo Common barn-owl
Mountain scops-owl Hodgson's frogmouth
Jungle nightjar Glossy swiftlet
Malabar trogon Hill pigeon
Slaty-headed parakeet Large hawk-cuckoo
Oriental bay owl Indian scops owl
Grey nightjar Indian swiftlet
Corncrake Tibetan sandgrouse
Snow pigeon Grey-headed parakeet
Common hawk-cuckoo Sri Lanka bay owl
Collared scops owl European nightjar
Slaty-breasted rail Western water rail

1.Red tanager image source: (cropped)
Image author: Kennedy Andrade Borges | License: CC BY-SA 4.0 as on 11/16/18
2.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Elaine R. Wilson | License: CC BY-SA 3.0 as on 11/16/18
3.Image source: (cropped)
Image author: Tim Boyer | License: CC BY-NC 2.0 as on 11/16/18
Website for detailed description and information on distribution, habitat, behavior, feeding and breeding habits, migration and conservation status of beautiful birds with their images.

Recently updated and current topic in Bird World: Red tanager - Piranga flava.

Contact State Tourism or travel agents for bird watching and wildlife tours.