Backyard Birds

Spangle-cheeked Tanagers

The Spangle-cheeked Tanagers (Tangara dowii) is a medium-sized passerine bird – averaging 13 cm in length (including tail) and weighs around 20g.

It has a mainly black head, upperparts and breast, with blue scaling on the breast, sides of the face and neck, and a rufous crown patch. The wings and tail have blue edgings. The rump is green and the belly is cinnamon.

The sexes are very similar, but adult males have more extensive blue scaling.

Immatures are generally duller, with no crown patch, and less distinct blue scaling.

Distribution / Habitat:

This tanager is an endemic resident breeder in the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama. It is common from about 1200 m to 3000 m altitude in the canopy of epiphyte laden wet mountain forests, and at lower levels in semi-open areas like clearings with trees, second growth and woodland edges.

Spangle-cheeked Tanagers occur in pairs, family groups, or as part of a mixed-species flock.


Nesting / Breeding:

The bulky cup nest is lined with bromeliad leaves and is built in a tree fork or on a branch high amongst the epiphytes. The normal clutch is two eggs.


They eat small fruit, usually swallowed whole, insects and spiders.

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Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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