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Lesser Antillean Tanager Tangara cucullata


The Lesser Antillean Tanager is part of the huge genus of small and brightly colored tanagers, Tangara. Genetic data strongly suggests that it is most closely related to the
Scrub Tanager (T. vitriolina) and these in turn are related to the Burnished-buff Tanager (T. cayana) and slightly more distantly to the recently described Green-capped Tanager (T. meyerdeschauenseei). All of these Tangara show warm cinnamon body plumages or greenish and there is a tendency for a rusty cap. The Lesser Antillean Tanager is largely cinnamon to tawny with greenish wings, a dark mask and a distinct rufous cap. It is restricted to the islands of St. Vincent and Grenada and certainly appears to be an invasion of the Antilles by a South American group – as does the molecular data. There are no other Tangara in the Caribbean. It is interesting that the Lesser Antillean Tanager appears most closely related to the Scrub Tanager, largely a Colombian species rather than the more widespread and geographically adjacent Burnished-buff Tanager found in Venezuela! The Lesser Antillean Tanager is reasonably common in moist forest in the highlands of its native islands. It appeared to suffer some immediate population decreases after Hurricane Ivan in 2004, numbers of the tanager quickly bounced perhaps as its preferred habitat is open forest and forest edge.

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© Linda Macaulay

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Recommended Citation

Lesser Antillean Tanager (Tangara cucullata), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: