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Blue-gray Tanager


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The Blue-grey Tanager, Thraupis episcopus, is a medium-sized South American songbird of the Tanager family, Thraupidae. Its range is from Mexico south to northeast Bolivia and northern Brazil, all of the Amazon Basin, except the very south. It has been introduced to Lima (Peru). On Trinidad and Tobago, this bird is called Blue Jean.

The Blue-grey Tanager is 18 cm long and weighs 35 g. Adults have a light bluish head and underparts, with darker blue upperparts and a shoulder patch colored a different hue of blue. The bill is short and quite thick. Sexes are similar, but the immature is much duller in plumage.

The song is a squeaky twittering, interspersed with tseee and tsuup call notes.

13-15 subspecies are commonly recognized, differing according to the exact hue of blue of the shoulder patch versus the rest of the plumage; they may be greyish, greenish or purplish-blue, with a lavender, dark blue or whitish shoulder patch. For example, T. e. berlepschi (endemic to Tobago) is a brighter and darker blue on the rump and shoulder, T. e. neosophilus with a violet shoulder patch occurs in northern Venezuela, Trinidad, eastern Colombia and the far north of Brazil, T. e. mediana of the southern Amazon basin has a white wing patch, and T. e. cana in the northern Amazon has blue shoulders.

The breeding habitat is open woodland, cultivated areas and gardens. The Blue-grey Tanager lives mainly on fruit, but will also take some nectar and insects. This is a common, restless, noisy and confiding species, usually found in pairs, but sometimes small groups. It thrives around human habitation, and will take some cultivated fruit like papayas (Carica papaya).

One to three, usually two, dark-marked whitish to grey green eggs are laid in a deep cup nest in a high tree fork or building crevice. Incubation by the female is 14 days with another 17 to fledging. The nest is sometimes parasitised by Molothrus cowbirds.

Two birds studied in the Parque Nacional de La Macarena of Colombia were infected with microfilariae, an undetermined Trypanosoma species, and another blood parasite that could not be identified. Two other birds, examined near Turbo (also in Colombia), did not have blood parasites.Basto et al. (2006), Londono et al. (2007)

Widespread and common throughout its large range, the Blue-grey Tanager is evaluated as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

References

(2006): Haematozoa in birds from la Macarena National Natural Park (Colombia). Caldasia 28(2): 371-377 [English with Spanish abstract]. PDF fulltext

(2007): Blood Parasites in Birds From the Lowlands of Northern Colombia. Caribb. J. Sci. 43(1): 87-93. PDF fulltext

Further reading

(1991): A guide to the birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition). Comstock Publishing, Ithaca, N.Y.. ISBN 0-8014-9792-2

(2003): Birds of Venezuela. Christopher Helm, London. ISBN 0-7136-6418-5

External links

Blue-grey Tanager videos, photos & sounds on the Internet Bird Collection

BirdLife Species Factsheet

Stamps with RangeMap

Photo-High Res; Article stevenrotsch

Blue-grey Tanager photo gallery VIREO

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Blue-gray Tanager


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