Distribution in the Americas
Found on the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Costa Rica from 300-1500 m, south through Panama to Darién (Wetmore et al. 1984), and at lower elevations on Trinidad and Tobago (ffrench 1991). Found locally in Colombia along both slopes of the north central Andes, the eastern slope of eastern Andes south to Caquetá and the Macarena Mountains. Found more widely in the mountains of Venezuela, particularly in the Andes from Táchria to south Lara. Also along the coastal mountains from Falcón east to Paria Peninsula, and on the slopes of tepuis in Amazonas and Bolívar in southern Venezuela and immediately adjacent Brazil (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). Also in Guyana on Mount Roraima (Braun et al. 2003) and in Suriname, where "only known from the Tafelberg and the Wilhelminagebergte, Central Suriname Nature Reserve, Sipalwini District" (Ottema et al. 2009); reported (sight records) in central French Guyana (Restall et al. 2006).
The Speckled Tanager generally occupies the canopy and borders of humid forest, but also occurs in secondary woodlands and adjacent clearings with large trees (Ridgely and Tudor 1989). It is considered to be more restricted to forested habitats than most other congeneric species. On Trinidad, the few feeding records away from the forest were from birds that foraged on fruit from shrubs on the borders of cocoa and coffee plantations (Snow and Snow 1971). The Speckled Tanager generally is found at higher elevation forests than the closely related Yellow-bellied Tanager (T. xanthogastra) in Colombia (Hilty and Brown 1986), and the Spotted Tanager (T. punctata) in Venezuela (Ridgely and Tudor 2009). Naoki (2003) observed the largest proportion of foraging bouts in secondary and primary forest, but also recorded some occurrences in open habitats. Can also be found alongside coffee plantations (Hilty 2003).