Distribution in the Americas
The Emerald Tanager is resident from southern Costa Rica to northern Ecuador primarily between 500 and 900 m (Isler and Isler 1987), possibly extending into extreme southern Nicaragua (BirdLife International 2011). In Costa Rica, the Emerald Tanager is restricted to the Caribbean slopes being found mostly from 500-1200 m elevation. In northern Panama it is found exclusively on the Caribbean slopes, transitioning to the entire Caribbean and Pacific slopes in the central portion of the province of Panama and continuing east through Darien and San Blas Provinces (Hilty and Brown 1986, Isler and Isler 1987). In Colombia, the Emerald Tanager is found on the Pacific slopes from the sources of the Rio San Juan in southern Choco, south to the Ecuador boarder, reaching its lowest elevation range of 100 m (Isler and Isler 1987). Note that there is an apparent break in the distribution of the Emerald Tanager between Panama and the Rio San Juan region. In Ecuador, the Emerald Tanager is found on the Pacific slopes of the Cordillera Occidental in Esmeraldas and Pinchincha provinces (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).
Uncommon (Ridgely and Tudor 1989) to fairly common (Parker et al. 1996) in the canopy and borders of hilly humid lowland to montane evergreen mossy forests (Parker et al. 1996); however, it can also be found in secondary growth (Restall et al. 2007). Typically found in the canopy, but can be found at all levels of the canopy (Restall et al. 2007), and rarely venturing to the forest floor (Hilty 1974). Occurs at elevations of up to 1200 m (Parker et al. 1996). The Emerald Tanager is occasionally observed straying into isolated fruiting trees or shrubs in open areas adjacent to forests (Isler and Isler 1987). In Costa Rica, Naoki (2003) recorded that forest habitats were used much more often than semi-open habitats, and this difference was fairly consistent across seasons (non-breeding, 95% forest, 5% semi-open; breeding 90% forest, 10% semi-open). There are known differences in the species elevation range in various parts of its distribution. Primarily found at higher elevations in the northern portions of its range (500-1200 m in Costa Rica) and reaching the lower limit with individuals from the southern portions of its range (100-1100 m in Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986, Isler and Isler 1987).