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Calochaetes coccineus

Vermilion Tanager

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Monotypic

Authors: Batiari, Lila, Casey H. Richart, and Kevin J. Burns

Calochaetes coccineus

Zamora, Zamora-Chincipe, Ecuador; 24 December 2008 © Nick Athanas

Vermilion Tanager is the only member of the monotypic genus Calochaetes and is one of the more sensational looking tanagers in South America. It is an uncommon species that occurs in middle-elevation montane forest, and forest borders along the eastern slope of the Andes from southern Colombia to southern Peru. It occurs in the zone between 1500 and 2000 meters, an elevation very rich with tanagers. Its stunning bright red and black plumage resembles a breeding male Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) in having a scarlet red body and black wings and tail. It differs by having a black mask and upper throat. Also, it somewhat resembles an arboreal version of Masked Crimson Tanager (Ramphocelus nigrogularis), a bird of the Amazon lowlands, but lacks the black back and belly of that species. Vermilion Tanager typically occurs in small groups of 2-5 individuals in the canopy, and almost always is associated with other tanagers in mixed species flocks. Vermilion Tanager is often seen foraging along mossy limbs, or probing into epiphytes and bromeliads, presumably for insects. Their vocalizations are mainly high-pitched chips, and are difficult to distinguish from other tanagers. Molecular phylogenetics indicates that Vermilion Tanager is closely related to the Iridosornis tanagers and other mountain tanagers, but Vermilion Tanager plumage differs greatly from these species. In Spanish the common name is Tangara Bermellón, in French the common name is Tangara Carmin, and in German the common name is Mennigtangare (Hilty 2011, de Juana et al. 2012). The generic epithet Calochaetes derives from the Greek words kalos, meaning beautiful, and khaitē, meaning mane, in reference to the intense red in this region; the specific epithet coccineus is Latin for scarlet colored (Jobling 2010).

Recommended Citation

Batiari, Lila, Casey H. Richart, and Kevin J. Burns. 2016. Vermilion Tanager (Calochaetes coccineus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map provided by Robert S. Ridgely.

  • Migration/Movement:Resident (nonmigratory)
  • Primary Habitat:Montane evergreen forest
  • Foraging Strata:Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Glean
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Mixed Flocks
  • Mating System:Unknown
  • Nest Form:Undescribed
  • Clutch: -
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern