Like most tanagers, the Gray-headed consumes both arthropods and fruit. An analysis of stomach contents of populations south of the Andes determined that insects are preferred. The species tends to prey on insects, in addition to Miconia berries, seeds and bananas (Isler and Isler 1999). Animal prey includes flies, spiders, roaches, caterpillars, crickets, hymenoptera, moths, centipedes, winged ants, and small beetles (Willis 1985). Overall, when compared to other tanagers, the Gray-headed Tanager spends less time eating fruit (Isler and Isler 1999, Skutch 1989, Restall et al. 2006, Boinski and Scott 1988).
Metabolism and temperature regulation: When the average ambient temperature was 26.2o C, the average cloacal temp was 43.1 (n=8). The Gray-headed Tanager has a high temperature compared to other insectivores due to its fast moving behavior (Oniki 1972).