Backyard Birds

Turquoise Tanagers

The Turquoise Tanagers (Tangara mexicana) is a medium-sized songbird of the Tanager family.

Distribution and Habitat:

The Turquoise Tanager’s range stretches within the Amazon Basin to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, and Bolivia. This species is also common on the island of Trinidad.

A disjunct population occurs in the Atlantic Forest of eastern Brazil, from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro. The Brazilian population is sometimes considered a separate species, the White-bellied Tanager (Tangara brasiliensis).

They are restricted to areas with humid forest, usually at high levels of forest, but are also found in semi-open areas, as well as on woodland and cultivated lands.

Turquoise Tanagers are very social and are usually seen in mixed flocks of 5 – 15 birds.


Turquoise Tanagers average 13 – 14cm (~5.5 inches) in length (including their long tails) and weigh around 20 grams. They have stout pointed bills.

The adult plumage is mostly dark blue and black, with turquoise edging to the primary wing feathers (= the longest wing feathers), with turquoise shoulder patches. Most races have yellow lower underparts – except for the Brazilian race, where this area is white.

  • The Trinidadian race, Tangara mexicana vieiloti, has a darker blue head and breast and brighter yellow underparts than the mainland race.
  • The Brazilian race, Tangara mexicana brasiliensis, has an overall paler blue plumage with dark spots on the throat and chest, blue edging to the primary flight feathers and white underparts.

Nesting / Breeding:

Pairs usually separate from the flock during the breeding season. They build bulky cup nests in trees or shrubs. The female usually lays 2 – 3 brown-blotched grey-green eggs in a clutch, which she incubates alone for about 12 to 14 days. Once the young have hatched, the pairs rejoin the flock but return to feed the young.

Calls / Vocalizations:

The Turquoise Tanager’s song sounds like a fast squeaky chatter tic-tic-tic-tic-tic.


They eat a wide variety of fruit as well as insects, flowers, leaves and seeds.

Tanager InformationTanager SpeciesTanager Species Photo Gallery

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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