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The Tanagers of Las Tangaras

May 3, 2013

‘Las Tangaras’ is the Spanish for ‘The Tanagers’. So, we hear you cry, what in fact are Tanagers and what on earth do they look like? Look no further…

Here on the reserve we are lucky enough to be visited by these small, sparrow-sized birds on an almost minute-by-minute basis. They are ubiquitous in Ecuador and all other South American countries, gracing parks, gardens, coasts and mountains and occur in an almost endless, kaleidoscopic variety of colours. At the last count, Las Tangaras is host to 31 species in the family, which includes other birds such as chlorophonias, euphonias, flowerpiercers and the Bannaquit (maybe more on those later…).  Here are just a few of our resident tanagers.

First up is one of our most commonly seen Tanagers, the Yellow-throated Bush Tanager. Although rather plainly coloured in comparison to other Tanagers at the reserve, their little gangs make their presence felt by constant chattering and rummaging in the low undergrowth around the cabin. These guys often join mixed species flocks and take advantage of insects disturbed by other birds close-by, foraging in different areas or levels. 


One of our most brightly coloured Tanagers is the Silver-throated Tanager. The male and female of this species are pretty much identical, both mostly yellow with the silver-white throat. They are acrobatic birds and are great fun to watch as they work there way along trunks and branches, often upside down or dangling precariously from a clump of moss. 


Talking of acrobatic, the Rufous-throated Tanager probably gets the award for the least fearless insect-grabber of the lot. These birds usually stay together as a single species flock and like to forage in the orange tree outside the manager’s bedroom window. They chatter constantly to keep the group together and move slowly through the upper levels of the canopy around the lodge, picking off insects as they go. 


Slowly becoming our favourite Tanager at the reserve, the Palm Tanager is a beautiful, sleek looking bird with an inquisitive character. They are found all over the northern portion of South America and have really started showing themselves at the lodge in recent days. Three birds hang around together and one individual has taken to sitting outside our bedroom admiring his (or her) reflection in the window, gesturing and calling. What started off as quite endearing behavior soon lost its shine as he (or she) is a particularly early riser and will start calling, gesturing and generally being a nuisance outside our window at 5.55am! 


Last but not least on our list is possibly the most beautiful tangager we’ve seen at the reserve to date. Freya was on great photo-form and managed to get this really nice shot of a Fawn-breasted Tanager near the lodge. It was moving in a loose mixed-species flock. We’ve only seen this species once in just over two months, so its great to get such a nice shot and better still to see it in the first place. The red eye ring really stands out in real-life too. 


There are plenty more Tanagers to see at Reserva Las Tanagaras as well as almost 300 other species of bird. Of course the best way to do that is to come to the reserve yourself. All the contact details are on the blog site and we’d love to have you, so if you have some time off planned this year, we can’t think of a better place for you to spend it. Spread the word!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Karen Lord permalink
    May 4, 2013 9:03 am

    Fantastic pictures requiring a lot of patience. Great to hear more news.
    love mum


  2. May 4, 2013 2:07 pm

    Wow! Nice photos and info! The rufous-throated tanager hanging upside-down is hilarious.


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