Silver-throated Tanager Tangara icterocephala

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Ashley Lane-Roberts and Kevin J. Burns


  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Silver-throated Tanager
eBird range map for Silver-throated Tanager

Generated from eBird observations (Year-Round, 1900-present)

Distribution in the Americas

Silver-throated Tanagers are found from northern Costa Rica to southern Ecuador, from 600-1800 m (Isler and Isler 1987). Occasionally found near sea level or up to 2300m, especially after the breeding season (Isler and Isler 1987). The center of abundance is in the Upper Tropical zone and the species is found in the following Zoogeographic Regions: Gulf-Caribbean Slope, Chiriquí-Darién Highlands, Chocó Lowlands, and the Northern Andes (Stotz et al. 1996).

The subspecies distributions are as follows:
T. i. frantzii: Found on both slopes from Guanacaste and Alajuela, Costa Rica, to Veraguas, Panama.

T. i. oresbia: Found in Coclé and western Panamá province, Panama.

T. i. interocephala: Found in the north-west end of the Central Andes in Antioquia, Colombia, and the Pacific slope in east Darién, Panama, and from Abtioquia, Colombia, southward through Colombia and Ecuador to Loja (Isler and Isler 1987). Recently discovered also in extreme northwestern Peru, on the border with Ecuador in Tumbes (Walker 2002).

Status: Permanent Resident, Common (Buskirk 1976).

Distribution outside the Americas

Endemic to the Americas.


The Silver-throated Tanager is found mostly in mossy forest, montane evergreen forest, tropical lowland evergreen forest and forest edge; the species also occurs in tall second growth forest (Isler and Isler 1987; Stotz et al. 1996). Has been found in fruiting trees and shrubs growing in clearings bordered by forest in Costa Rica but rarely leaves the cover of its forested habitat in Colombia (Isler and Isler 1987). In a study site in Ecuador, these tanagers divided their time among habitats as follows: secondary forest 50%, primary forest 40%, semi-open areas less than 10%, and secondary growth less than 5% (Naoki 2003). In a study by Sekercioglu et al. (2006), Tangara icterocephala could survive in disturbed habitat as long as there was remnant forest and trees in the area. This study took place around the Las Cruces Biological Station of the Organization for Tropical Studies in the Coto Brus province of Costa Rica, which was previously forested and now has coffee plantations and pastures. This species of tanager was found to feed and nest in the disturbed area, and did not commute from the extensive forest to the agricultural areas. Nevertheless, these birds did spend 69% to 85% of their time in the remnant trees (scattered remnant trees did not form a continuous canopy), which only constituted 11% of the habitat. They spent the most time in arboreal remnants, followed by forest fragments, riparian strips, single trees, and almost no time was spent in coffee plantations and other open habitats. In this area, median home range sizes were determined to be 74 m (range=25-211 m).

Historical changes

No information.

Fossil history

No information.

Recommended Citation

Lane-Roberts, A. and K. J. Burns (2010). Silver-throated Tanager (Tangara icterocephala), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.