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Fawn-breasted Tanager Pipraeidea melanonota

Kim Gonzales, Casey H. Richart, and Kevin J. Burns
Version: 1.0 — Published August 14, 2015


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Fawn-breasted Tanagers mostly forage in canopy or upper levels of trees when in woodlands, but at practically all levels in open areas, especially in fruiting trees or shrubs (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2003, Hilty 2011). While foraging they hop along branches and perch-glean; they also sallying up to briefly hover-glean under foliage and branches or to capture flying insects, and they sometimes search bromeliads (Isler and Isler 1987, Hilty 2003,Hilty 2011). In São Paulo, Brazil P. m. melanonota have been seen preying upon ithomiine butterflies, a toxic ring of Müllerian species. They descend to low vegetation where the butterflies roost, they locate prey from a horizontal branch then sally from 1-3 meters to capture a butterfly and land on another branch. They consume the abdominal contents only (presumably the exterior and wings are toxic) then drop the remains to the ground, and continue to catch more (Brown and Neto 1976). In Venezuela P. m. venezuelensis were seen eating moth species through aerial foraging where they would eat the smaller ones whole, and the larger moths would be de-winged first (Collins and Watson 1983).

Their flight is swifter than other small tanagers such as Tangara (Hilty and Brown 1986), and their behavior generally is "flighty at times; apt to fly off some distance" (Hilty 2011).


There are no published data on territorial defense, maintenance, or fidelity for Fawn-breasted Tanager.

Sexual Behavior

Very little information. Fawn-breasted Tanager is monogamous.

Social and interspecific behavior

The Fawn-breasted Tanager is usually seen alone or in pairs (Isler and Isler 1987), and often does not associate with mixed species flocks (Schulenberg et al. 2010), although it may associate with other species at  fruiting trees (Bohórquez 2003). For example, Willis (1966) observed this species joining other species (mostly Tangara spp.) foraging on the berries of a Conostegia (Willis 1966). In a montane secondary forest dominated by Alnus in Ecuador (at Maspa Chico) they were reported to have an average intraspecific group size of 1.8 individuals, and were reported in 36.8% of observed mixed-species flocks (Poulsen 1996).


None reported.

Recommended Citation

Gonzales, K., C. H. Richart, and K. J. Burns (2015). Fawn-breasted Tanager (Pipraeidea melanonota), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.fabtan1.01