White-shouldered Tanager is fairly common throughout most of its large range. They occur in humid forest of the lowlands and foothills, where they can be found in borders, open woodland, and interior forest. Pairs or family groups frequently join mixed foraging flocks. Most commonly, they are found foraging at the midlevels, but they also frequent the subcanopy and lower growth. They glean and flutter for insects and small fruit. Males are jet black with obvious white shoulders, whereas females have an olive-green back, yellow belly, gray head, and whitish throat. Their calls are a constant though easily overlooked series of short, high, rising notes.
The scientific name Tachyphonus luctuosus comes from the Greek takhus which means fast and phonos which mean speaking, and luctuosus which means mournful, from lugere to mourn (Jobling 2010). The common name in Spanish is Tangara Luctuosa (Hilty 2011, de Juana et al 2012)