- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Cardinalidae
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
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.
- Piranga bermeja (Spanish)
- Piranga orangé (French)
- Cool Facts
- In Central and South America there are 300+ species of tanagers that, despite sharing a name, are unrelated to the 4 species in the U.S. and Canada. “Our” tanagers—Hepatic, Western, Summer, and Scarlet—are in the family Cardinalidae along with Northern Cardinals and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, among others.
- Although the Hepatic Tanager has the most restricted range of the four Piranga tanagers in the United States, it is overall the most widespread member of its genus. It breeds from the southwestern United States southward all the way to Argentina.
- The Hepatic Tanager has been little studied. As of 2002, only 106 had been banded in the United States, and only one banded bird had ever been recovered.