Magpie Tanager Cissopis leverianus

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Polytypic: 2 subspecies
  • Authors: Marguerite C. Threlkeld and Kevin J. Burns



Locomotion: Active and noisy; the behaviors of Magpie Tanager often are described as jay-like. Quickly hops from branch to branch in denser brush (Mitchell 1957, Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2003). Strong and steady flight between clearings occurs often (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2003).  Moves tail up and down and show white on tail feathers when taking-off in flight (Isler and Isler 1987). Perches high up on open branches in tall trees (Ridgely and Tudor 2009, Hilty 2011).

Foraging: Hops about from branch to branch, calling occasionally on short flits (Hilty 2003, Hilty 2011). Noisy and obvious while searching for arthropods and fruit. Leaps and flutters to feed on catkins of the frequently visited Cecropia tree (Isler and Isler 1987). Commonly found in open areas with shrubbery or secondary growth forests, even plantations with large shade trees (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2011). Forages at all levels but more common in low to middle understory (Hilty 2003). Also spends some time on the forest canopy (Hilty and Brown 1986). In the Amazon, search for food stays mostly below 12 m from the ground. Forages in shrubs and small trees, often near flood plains next to rivers (Isler and Isler 1987).


No information.

Sexual Behavior

There is very little information available on sexual behavior. During the breeding season, Magpie Tanagers are mostly found in pairs (Isler and Isler 1987).

Social and interspecific behavior

The Magpie Tanager is often found in families of 3-4 members during the breeding season. They usually join together in small groups of  families (Hilty 2011). Groups of families, up to 10 individuals, are usually quite active and noisy (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2003). Occasionally will join many other species in mixed flocks while foraging. However, interactions with other species may be brief (Hilty 2011). Occasionally follows flocks of several other species (Hilty and Brown 1986). In some cases, associates with large and mixed groups of other species of tanager (Zimmerman 1977). Sometimes a bird will be solitary, staying separate from members of the same or other species (Hilty 2003). In eastern Brazil, Magpie Tanagers are known to associate with Black-throated Grosbeak (Saltator fuliginosus; Sick 1993, Hilty 2011).


No information.

Recommended Citation

Threlkeld, M. C. and K. J. Burns (2013). Magpie Tanager (Cissopis leverianus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.