Main food taken: The Turquoise Tanager forages both for fruit and for terrestrial invertebrates. In one study in Trinidad (Snow and Snow 1971), 47% of foraging observations (n=433) were of searching for insects, and 53% were of foraging on fruit. In Trinidad, 26 species of fruit were included in the diet, although Miconia berries made up almost a third (31%) of all observations of fruit-eating. Other commonly eaten fruits are Cecropia, Ficus, and Ilex. The fruits of the Loranthaceae (mistletoes) are more important in the diet of the Turquoise Tanager than for other tanager species (Snow and Snow 1971).
Food capture and consumption: The Turquoise Tanager forages for fruit by perching to pick various fruits and berries. Small fruits have been observed being swallowed whole while larger fruits are picked at or mashed creating smaller easily digested pieces. Only one instance has been observed where fruit has been taken while in flight (Snow and Snow 1971, Isler and Isler 1999). When foraging for insects, Turquoise Tanagers usually search for insects on bare branches in the crowns of tall trees (Isler and Isler 1999). Snow and Snow (1971) recorded substrates on which Turquoise Tanagers foraged for insects in Trinidad: 4% foliage, 91% branches and twigs, 2% flowers and seed heads, and 2% sallying. Turquoise Tanagers primarily search for insects on slender branches and twigs, under 1.3 cm diameter.