Bay-headed Tanager

The Bay-headed Tanagers (Tangara gyrola) are a medium-sized tanagers.

Distribution / Habitat:

They occur naturally in Central America – namely Costa Rica, Panama – and in South America (south to Ecuador, Bolivia, southern Brazil), as well as on Trinidad (the southernmost island in the Caribbean).

They inhabit forests favoring wetter areas.

Description and Subspecies:

The Bay-headed Tanagers measure about 14 cm in length and weigh around 19.5 g.

There are nine sub-species and there are considerable plumage variations between the various subspecies.

  • The nominate race T. g. gyrola
    • ID: Plumage mostly mainly green except for the chestnut head, a blue belly, and a thin gold collar on the hind neck.
  • Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola)
    Tangara gyrola bangsi
    • ID: Plumage mostly green, except for the vivid blue chest and belly, chestnut head, a yellow collar to the back of the neck. The vent feathers and thighs are chestnut-colored.
  • Tangara gyrola viridissima
    • Range: Northeast Venezuela and Trinidad
      • Plumage all green, except for the head
  • Tangara gyrola toddi
    • ID: Identical to ssp. viridissima above.

Males and females look alike. Although some gender identification may be possible by the shape of the head. The male is said to have a flat head, while the hen has a more rounded head. However, this method is imprecise.

Young / immature birds have a duller plumage and chestnut-flecked green heads.

Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola toddi)
Bay-headed Tanager] (Tangara gyrola toddi)

Nesting / Breeding:

The bulky cup nest is built in a tree and the normal clutch consists of two brown-blotched creamy eggs.

The female incubates the eggs for 13–14 days to hatching, with another 14–18 days before the chicks fledge.

Diet:

Their primary diet consists of fruit (often swallowed whole). They will also take nectar, seeds and insects, often picked from the underside of branches.

Calls / Vocalizations:

Its song is described as a slow seee, seee, seee, tsou, tsooy.

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