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Version 1.0

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Emerald Tanager Tangara florida

Bertrand Clark Austin and Kevin J. Burns
Version: 1.0 — Published December 2, 2011


Distinguishing Characteristics

The Emerald Tanager is a medium-sized tanager within the genus Tangara. Easily identified by its distinctive green-and-black striped plumage, this tanager is found in southern Central America and northern South America.

Similar Species

The Emerald Tanager has a distinctive plumage that is unlikely to be confused with any other bird in its range. The predominantly bright green coloration easily sets it apart from the similarly patterned Golden Tanager Tangara arthus (Ridgely and Tudor 1989), and Emerald Tanager and is not as intensely colored as the Glistening-green Tanager Chlorochrysa phoenicotis (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001).

In western Colombia and northwestern Ecuador, Emerald Tanager overlaps with the superficially similar Blue-whiskered Tanager (Tangara johannae). Blue-whiskered Tanager has a black face and throat, however, and a contrasting turquoise blue malar; this is very different from the mostly green face and throat of Emerald Tanager.

Detailed Description

Sexes similar, but female duller than male.

The following description (nominate florida) is based primarily on Wetmore et al. (1984); see also Ridgway (1902) and Stiles and Skutch (1989). Also see Geographic Variation.

Adult, male: Primarily bright light green, streaked with black on the upperparts. Lores, base of bill, and chin black. Center and rear of crown glossy dark yellow; remainder of crown, band across nape, and orbital region glossy yellow-green. Patch on auriculars black. Upper back black; feathers edged with glossy light green, creating a streaked effect. The lower back, rump, and uppertail coverts are dark yellow. Wings black; coverts tipped with and outer webs of secondaries edged light green. The rcetrices are black, with outer webs very finely edged light green. Underparts light green; center of belly and undertail coverts light yellow.

Adult, female: Similar to male, but yellow of head replaced with yellow-green.

Immature: Closely resembles adult female (Stiles and Skutch 1989).

Juvenile: Much duller. Green areas of upperparts with olive tinge. Crown with indistinct blackish spotting. Back with narrow, indistinct, dusky streaks. Rump and underparts olive-green, tinged with gray on the throat and with yellow on the belly (Stiles and Skutch 1989).


After the first molt, the plumage of the juvenile male resembles that of an adult female. The Subadult male retains this plumage through the first breeding season, and only after the second molt do males gain adult plumage (Carriker 1910, cited in Isler and Isler 1987).

Bare Parts

Iris: brown (Restall et al. 2007); dark (Robbins et al. 1985)

Bill: black (Stiles and Skutch 1989, Restall et al. 2007); dark (Robbins et al. 1985)

Tarsi: bluish gray (Robbins et al. 1985, Stiles and Skutch 1989); gray (Restall et al. 2007)


Total length: 10.6-11.7 cm (Wetmore et al. 1984); 12 cm (Stiles and Skutch 1989); 13 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001)

Measurement data (mean, range) for Emerald Tanager (Tangara florida); measurements in mm, from Wetmore et al. 1984.
 Wing LengthTail LengthTarsus LengthCulmen (from base)n
Male65.9 (64.2-67.337.2 (31.1-40.515.9 (15.2-16.4)11.6 (10.4-13.7)10
Female63.5 (62.0-66.2)37.9 (35.8-39.7)15.9 (14.7-16.8)11.7 (10.2-13.3)7

Mass, both sexes:
19 g (Stiles and Skutch 1989)

18 g (n = 2) (Isler and Isler 1987)

18.6 g (n =13), Costa Rica (Naoki 2003)

18.5 g, male, Panama (Robbins et al. 1985)

19.0-20.5 (n = 2), females, Panama (Robbins et al. 1985)

Recommended Citation

Austin, B. C. and K. J. Burns (2011). Emerald Tanager (Tangara florida), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.emetan1.01