The sole member of the rather drably plumaged genus Orchesticus, Brown Tanager is a comparatively uncommon Brazilian endemic, which perhaps performs localized altitudinal migrations but is confined to the Atlantic Forest biome, where it occurs from Espírito Santo south to Santa Catarina. It is an easily overlooked inhabitant of the canopy of humid montane forest, principally above 900 m, and the species regularly joins mixed-species foraging flocks, which routinely include two species that bear more than a passing resemblance to this tanager, namely the Chestnut-crowned Becard (Pachyramphus castaneus) and the Buff-fronted Foliage-gleaner (Philydor rufus). One easy way to distinguish the tanager from either species is by the radically different, typically thraupine, bill shape. The resemblance to the foliage-gleaner has led to the suggestion that this tanager might have adapted to imitate the Philydor, i.e. that it is a social mimic.