White-banded Tanager Neothraupis fasciata

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Ariane-Jane Flores, Casey H. Richart, and Kevin J. Burns


Distinguishing Characteristics

White-banded Tanager (Neothraupis fasciata), also known as Shrike-like Tanager, is a medium sized tanager that is the only species of the genus Neothraupis. It has a thick bill. This tanager primarily is gray. The wings are blackish wings with white median coverts forming a prominent white wing bar (the white band of its English name). It also has a broad blackish mask that contrasts with its white throat and postocular stripe. The gray and white plumage of White-banded Tanger is strikingly similar to that of several species of Lanius shrikes.

Similar Species

White-banded Tanager has gray upper- and underparts, a black mask, black wings and a contrasting white band on its wings, making it distinctively different from other gray tanagers. White-banded Tanager is restricted to cerrados of South America, primarily in dense scrubs at elevations of 550-1100 m (Isler and Isler 1987). For these reasons, it is not likely mistaken as any other species in its range. White-banded Tanager is superficially similar to several species of shrikes (Lanius), many of which also are primarily gray with prominent black facemasks, black wings and white coverts (Gwynne et al. 2010). Shrikes, however, do not occur in South America.

Detailed Description

Adult: Crown, nape, upperparts, and uppertail coverts are medium gray. There is a black mask that covers the eyes, extending from the lores and the forecrown just above the bill to the rear of the auriculars. The mask is bordered above by a very narrow white postocular stripe. The wing coverts are generally black, with the strongly contrasting white tipped median coverts forming a prominent white wingbar. The secondaries and tertials are brownish gray, and the primaries are edged with dull white. The rectrices are brownish gray to darker gray. The throat, vent, and undertail coverts are white, with the chest and upper breast tinged light pearly gray. The bill is thick bill, and is dusky except for the tip of the mandible, which is blue gray. The sexes are similar, but females are slightly duller (Hilty 2011).

Juvenile: Immatures are similar to adults but are much duller and brownish. They have a less distinctive mask, smaller white wing patches, and the underparts often have a yellow tinge. Crisp blacks and grays develop gradually in maturity and reach full adult plumage by second year (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2011).


Tanagers that have been studied either have a Complex Basic Strategy or a Complex Alternative Strategy (Ryder and Wolfe 2009). Although preformative and prealternative molting varies in the available genera studied, most tanagers have a single annual prebasic molt that likely occurs after breeding season (Ryder and Wolfe 2009). White-banded Tanager juveniles have duller plumages than adults (Gwynne et al. 2010), acquiring darker adult plumage in their second year (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2011). White-banded Tanager has an average molt duration of 124 - 131 days (n = 51) and intensity of 1.2 - 3.4 feathers growing simultaneously (Silveira and Marini 2012). There is no difference in the duration or intensity of molt between males and females (Silveira and Marini 2012). From December through January, there is a molt and breeding overlap in which White-banded Tanagers have a brood patch or cloacal protuberance (Silveira and Marini 2012).

Bare Parts

Iris: dark reddish brown (Hilty 2011).

Bill: the thick bill is mostly all dusky, with the mandible tipped blue gray (Hilty 2011).

Tarsi and toes: dusky horn (Hilty 2011).


The total length is 16 cm, and the mass about 30 g (n = 3, range 29.0-32.0 g; Isler and Isler 1987). Measurements from an apparently disjunct population 600 km north in Amapá, Brazil returned a mean mass in males of 27.1 g (n = 8) and 26.1 g for females (n = 3; Silva et al. 1997). Birds are apparently larger in southern populations, with a mean mass of 33 g in Laguna Blanca, Paraguay (Smith et al. 2012).  A suite of measurements on adult and juveniles birds is listed below (Table 1).

Table 1. Measurements (Smith et al. 2012).
Measurement Mean  Range n Mean Range n
   Adult    Juvenile
Mass (g) 33 32-34 2 31.7 27-38 5
Exposed Culmen (mm) 15.5 14.5-16  5 14.7 12.9-16 5
Bill Width at nares (mm)  7.4 7-8 5 7.5 7-8 3
Bill Depth at nares (mm) 8.8 8.5-9 5 7.5 7-8 4
Head + Bill Length (mm) 36.0  34-40 5 35.9 34.37 5
Tarsus Length (mm) 24.9 22-28.5 5 23.4  20-24.6 5
Wing Chord (mm) 72.4 70-76 5 71.2  69-74 5
Tail Length (mm) 65.9 64-69 5 63.4 60-70 5

Recommended Citation

Flores, A., C. H. Richart, and K. J. Burns (2015). White-banded Tanager (Neothraupis fasciata), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.whbtan1.01