Emerald Tanager Tangara florida

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Bertrand Clark Austin and Kevin J. Burns



Microhabitat for foraging: As the Emerald Tanager often is associated with mixed-species flocks, niche specialization has been observed in regards to foraging areas. Niche partitioning occurs by elevational segregation and foraging on branches differing in size (Isler and Isler 1987), and amount of moss covering them (Naoki 2003). The Emerald Tanager utilizes branches in the range of 1.3 to 2.5 cm in diameter (73 of 97 observations; Hilty cited in Isler and Isler 1987). More than 90% of its foraging time is spent on moss or partially-moss covered branches (Naoki 2003).

Seldom seen interacting on the ground, on one occasion an Emerald Tanager was seen calling and foraging with three Sooty-headed Wrens (Pheugopedius spadix), a Bicolored Antbird (Gymnopithys bicolor), and ten Silver-throated Tanagers (Tangara icterocephala) 0.3-2.5 m above a swarm of army ants (Hilty 1974). Army ants, typically not found above 1000 m elevation, are most likely rarely used by Emerald Tanagers (Hilty 1974).

Food capture and consumption: Isler and Isler (1987) indicate the typical foraging attack mode is the diagonal-lean method.  Naoki (2003) quantified percent time using a variety of foraging modes when searching for arthropod prey (see chart below).  This species specializes in searching for arthropods in moss, with 60% of observations occurring in moss covered branches and 36% of obsevations occurring on partially-moss-covered branches (Naoki 2003).  The Emerald Tanager occasionally even tearx moss apart to get to potential prey (Hilty cited in Isler and Isler 1987).  When searching for fruit, a variety of attack modes are also used, the most prominent being glean (48%), reach-out (18%), reach-down (15%), and reach-up (9%).

Locomotion: Generally behavior is active, sometimes moving excitedly while foraging (Hilty 1974).


Foraging Behavior in the Non-breeding and Breeding Seasons, values in %, from Naoki 2003




Reach Down











None reported.

Sexual Behavior

None reported.

Social and interspecific behavior

The Emerald Tanager is found foraging individually, in pairs, or in small groups of 3-7 accompanying of mixed-species flocks (Slud 1964, Isler and Isler 1987, Restall et al. 2007). These mixed-species flocks are most often comprised of other closely related tanager species, honeycreepers, and warblers (Stiles and Skutch 1989). On one occasion an Emerald Tanager was observed accompanying a flock of three Sooty-headed Wrens (Pheugopedius spadix), a Bicolored Antbird (Gymnopithys leucaspis), and ten Silver-throated Tanagers Tangara icterocephala (Hilty 1974), and on another a flock of White-ruffed Manakin (Corapipo leucorrhoa), Green Honeycreeper (Chlorophanes spiza), Tropical Parula (Setophaga pitiayumi), Chestnut-sided Warbler (Setophaga pensylvanica), Speckled Tanager (Tangara guttata), Yellow-throated Bush-Tanager (Chlorospingus flavigularis), and others (Haverschmidt 1976).

Agonistic behavior: No such behavior has been recorded for the Emerald Tanager; however, members of the genus Tangara occasionally defend a nest from a snake or other predator (Matheus et al. 1996).


None Reported.

Recommended Citation

Austin, B. C. and K. J. Burns (2011). Emerald Tanager (Tangara florida), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.emetan1.01