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Hepatic Tanager

Silhouette CardinalsCardinals
Hepatic TanagerPiranga flava
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Cardinalidae

Basic Description

The Hepatic Tanager’s sweet, caroling song carries well through the open pine and pine-oak forests of its highland habitats. Named for the male’s dusky reddish upperparts (“hepatic” refers to the liver), this species’ scientific name (flava) also references the female’s yellow plumage. Hepatic Tanagers occur in much of South and Central America and barely reach the southwestern U.S., where they are common but very little studied. They have gradually expanded their range northward since the 1960s.

More ID Info
image of range map for Hepatic Tanager
Range map provided by Birds of the World
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Find This Bird

Look for Hepatic Tanagers in mountain ranges of Arizona and New Mexico during spring and summer, when males sing well into late morning. Later in the season, pairs and their young call back and forth. Their bright colors also make Hepatic Tanagers conspicuous, though they tend to feed in the interior of trees, so you may need to search a while before one becomes visible. The brighter, paler-billed Summer Tanager overlaps in breeding range, but its voice is different, and it usually inhabits groves of cottonwood and other deciduous trees at lower elevations.

Other Names

  • Piranga Bermeja (Spanish)
  • Piranga orangé (French)
  • Cool Facts