The Hepatic Tanager
A Hepatic Tanager is a fun bird to see while bird watching. Below are some tips to help you identify Hepatic Tanagers. We have also put together a list of fun Hepatic Tanager t-shirts, Hepatic Tanager bird patches, birdhouses, bird feeders, binoculars, stickers, and other fun bird watching items.
About Hepatic Tanagers
The Hepatic Tanager is an American Songbird formerly placed under the tanager family and classified in the cardinal family. The bird is native to North America while their plumage and vocalization are similar to other types of birds in the cardinal family. Their distribution is limited to the southern regions of North America ranging from Arizona, New Mexico to northern Argentina. They may have declined in the southwest regions in recent decades, attributed to the parasitizing of their nests.
Description and Identification
Hepatic Tanagers derive their names from the word “hepatic” – meaning “liver-colored”.
Their scientific name is also derived from the Latin word for yellow – “Flava”. These solidly
built songbirds are around 3.5 – 8 inches in length, with short, heavy bills and relatively long
tails. Their long wings can span up to 12.6 inches. Adult males are brownish-red above –
resembling the color of the liver – with a grayish ear patch, while adult females are yellow
above and below with a dusky ear patch. Immatures are grayish olive above with buffy
underparts, with the entire plumage being slightly streaked. While immatures bear
resemblance to adult females, they are not as vibrant. All adults and juveniles have dark bills
Hepatic Tanager Color Pattern
From the name “hepatic” which means the color of liver, the male is brownish-red all over its body with hints of gray on its flight wings, neck, and cheeks. They have gray bills which may look silver from far. The female and young Hepatic Tanagers are yellow in color. The brighter shades of their colors can be found on their foreheads and throat.
Hepatic Tanager Size
Among other types of birds in the cardinal family, they are considered as medium-sized. They have an average body length of 20cm and a body mass of 38g. Their wings span 31.8cm.
Hepatic Tanager Behavior
The Hepatic Tanager can commonly be seen moving slowly and deliberately through the foliage in order to ruffle up some insects then when the bugs take flight or begin moving away, they lunge towards prey and catch them.
The males sing to defend nesting sites which are situated 15-50 feet above the ground. The female builds the nests at fork horizontal branches using twigs, grass, and weed stems.
Hepatic Tanager Food
Hepatic Tanagers mostly eat insects, spiders, and plant matter. They search for berries and
insects by plucking or gleaning with the bill while foraging. They usually start at the lowest
levels of a tree and continue to methodically move upwards in search of prey. Sometimes,
these birds engage in the pursuit of their prey by chasing after it in flight. Common prey includes spiders, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, bees, ants, and grasshoppers. They also consume small seeds, flowers, nectar, and small fruits like cherry and grape.
They mainly feed on berries but more on insects. They prefer caterpillars and beetles. The bird also eats small fruits which are prevalent in most cardinals.
Hepatic Tanager Habitat
These birds can be found breeding in open woodlands of pine in the higher elevations of the
Southwest. They tend to gravitate towards mixed pine-oak woodlands. These forest
canopies are optimal breeding habitats for these songbirds, as they are usually partially
open with a lack of heavily vegetated understories. Some trees that they nest in include
Ponderosa pine, pinyon pine, Jeffrey pine, white fir, maple, mesquite, walnut, willow, and
sycamore. During migration, similar pine and pine-oak habitats are used as they descend to
lower elevations. They may also use deciduous habitats along rivers during these times.
American populations frequent many kinds of forested environments, ranging from canopies
at sea level to mountain forests.
They inhabit oak and pine mountainous forests common in Mexico. They are known for breeding at middle elevations found in Canyons and mountains.
Range and Migration
Hepatic Tanagers are American songbirds that range from the southwestern United States
to northern Argentina. They tend to prefer regions of Mexico and Central America, and thus
rarely occur along the arid southwestern regions of the United States, where they are
occasionally observed but are rarely studied. As a result, very little information exists about
these birds. These birds are short-distance migrants or permanent residents of their
breeding grounds. Populations that breed towards the Southwest in the United States move
south towards Central America and South America during the winters. However, populations
that breed in Central and South America are permanent residents of their regions that may
only move in order to secure more food sources.
Hepatic Tanager Life Cycle
The female can lay between 3-5 eggs which she is required to incubate before the young hatch. The incubation period is unknown as well as when the young leave the nest. The Hepatic Tanager can live to a maximum of 11 years in the wild.
Hepatic Tanager Nesting
Nesting sites are selected by the females at an elevation of around 15 – 30 feet above the
ground. The nests themselves are most likely built by the females with limited help from the
males. A flat cup is made at the site out of grasses, twigs, and plant fibers that are then lined
with a softer material like grasses, pine needles, mosses, hair, or flowers. The average brood
has about 3 – 5 eggs during the breeding season.
Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes
At Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.
Bird Watching Binoculars for Identifying Hepatic Tanagers
The most common types of bird-watching binoculars for viewing Hepatic Tanagers are 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.
Hepatic Tanager T-shirts
If you love the Hepatic Tanager you should purchase a Bird Watching Academy & Camp T-shirt. To help support bird conservation we donate 10 percent to bird conservation activities.
Hepatic Tanager Iron On Patches
Kids, Youth, and Adults love to collect our Bird Watching Academy & Camp iron-on patches. Our bird-watching patches help you keep track of the birds you have seen and identified. You can also display the patches on our Bird Watching Academy & Camp banners.
The Hepatic Tanager is a great iron-on patch to start your collection with. The patches are durable and can be sewn on or ironed on to just about anything.
Hepatic Tanager Stickers
Stickers are a great way for you to display your love for bird watching and the Hepatic Tanager. We sell a monthly subscription sticker pack. The sticker packs have 12 bird stickers. These sticker packs will help your kids learn new birds every month.
Bird Feeders for Hepatic Tanagers
There are many types of bird feeders. Here are our favorite bird feeders for your backyard. We use all of these bird feeders currently. Kids will have a great time watching birds eat at these bird feeders. Using this collection of bird feeders will provide a wide variety and many types of birds.
Best Bird Houses for Hepatic Tanagers
There are many types of birdhouses. Building a birdhouse is always fun but can be frustrating. These 4 birdhouses have become our favorites. Getting a birdhouse for kids to watch birds grow is always fun. We spent a little extra money on these birdhouses but they have been worth the higher price and look great.