Blue-Gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)

Visit our New World Tropics building and look for the blue-grey tanager, which belongs to a large family of
small tropical birds. There are over 200 species of colorful tanagers found from Canada all the way from Argentina. The name tanager comes from the Topi Indian language of Brazil. If you look closely in the aviary of our New World Tropics building, you may see this bird up in the trees.


The blue-gray tanager is a small bird, weighing a little more than an ounce, and measuring six inches including its tail. The head, throat and underside are a pale grayish blue. The tail and wings are bright blue and the back is a darker blue. Legs and beak are gray in color. Sexes are similar in appearance.


Lowland forests and semi-open forest edges. Unlike most other tropical birds, blue-gray tanagers may even be seen in areas close to human development.


Southern Mexico to the northern edge of the Amazon River basin. This species has also been introduced into southern Florida.


A wide variety of fruits, insects, leaves, flowers and nectar. Tanagers play an important role in seed dispersal for trees and shrubs in the tropics.

Life Span: 

12 years or more.

Family Life: 

Blue-gray tanagers are usually seen in pairs or small flocks. Breeding season is from March to July. During this time, females may lay 1 to 3 mottled eggs and incubate them for 12 to 14 days. Once the chicks hatch, both parents will feed them.


Commonly seen throughout their range, but habitat destruction due to deforestation is a huge threat to this species.

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