Golden Tanager Tangara arthus

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Polytypic: 9 subspecies
  • Authors: Jennifer Lauren Cameron and Kevin J. Burns



Foraging: Golden Tanagers forage in the canopy area of montane evergreen forests (Parker et al. 1996). When foraging for food the Golden Tanager travels along mossy branches and peers underneath them (Ridgley and Tudor 1989). When foraging for fruit, the Golden Tanager may hang upside down from the petiole; it also hangs off of vines or moss in search of insects (Hilty and Brown 1986). Naoki (2003a) quantified foraging behavior of several Tangara species, including two subspecies of Golden Tanager. When foraging for arthropods, Tangara arthus sophiae almost always searched within moss (38% of observations) or partially moss-covered branches (56% of observations). The most common arthropod foraging techniques used were "hang-down" (49%),"reach-down" (31%), and glean (9%) (classification of foraging maneuvers follows Remsen and Robinson 1990). Most arthropod foraging occurred at a height of 5-10 m (54%) or under 5 m (33%). The foraging behavior of Tangara arthus goodsoni was similar. Most arthropod foraging occurred within moss (41%) or partially moss-covered branches (22%). The most common arthropod attack manuevers were "hang-down" (35%), reach down (30%), and glean (15%), and foraging typically occurred from 5-10 m (74%) or under 5 m (15%). When foraging on fruit, the most common attack manuever used by Tangara arthus sophiae was the glean (62%), typically from a height of 5-10 m (45%) or under 5 m (53%). Most of the fruit taken was Miconia. Tangara arthus goodsoni foraged for fruit in a similar manner (glean, 63%). However, this subspecies typically foraged at greater heights (5-10 m, 44%; 10-15 m, 41%) and had a more varied diet (Miconia, 51%; Trema, 12.3%; Hedyosum, 5%). Differences in fruit foraging between the two subspecies likely reflect geographic variation in fruit availability, whereas arthropod foraging behaviors appear more stereotyped within Tangara species (Naoki 2003a).

Locomotion: The Golden Tanager can move quickly from branch to branch when necessary, but is often found hopping along mossy branches when searching for food (Hilty and Brown 1986).


No information.

Sexual Behavior

Courtship display: In captivity, Tangara arthus aurulenta was recorded performing a mating display. Most notably, the male and female mirror each other’s movements. During this display the head moves upwards, the wings drop, and the tail is raised. The visual display is coupled with shrill notes that end in a long trailing note (Cairpaglini 1971).

Social and interspecific behavior

The Golden Tanager occurs in groups of up to five individuals that travel in mixed species flocks, usually with other species of tanagers (Ridgely and Tudor 1989, Isler and Isler 1999). In Venezuela, however, the Golden Tanager reportedly may travel in groups of up to 30 individuals (Schäfer and Phelps 1954). Within mixed species flocks the Golden Tanager is considered a nuclear species because its vocalizations and displays influence the formation of the flock (Bohórquez 2003).


No information.

Recommended Citation

Cameron, J. L. and K. J. Burns (2010). Golden Tanager (Tangara arthus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.