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Version 1.0

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Puerto Rican Tanager Nesospingus speculiferus

Alcides L. Morales
Version: 1.0 — Published February 24, 2012



Puerto Rican Tanagers roost communally in palms or bamboo clumps (Wetmore 1927, Raffaele et al. 1998). After feeding fleshy fruits or animal matter it cleanses its bill by wiping it against a tree branch (A. Morales pers. obs.). It has engages in active anting behavior, in which it uses ants from the genus Iridomyrmex (King 1970). The flight is strong and undulating , but it seldom flies long distances; Puerto Rican Tanagers prefer to move among the brush and through the canopy.


The Puerto Rican Tanager is strongly territorial only in the breeding season, when they defend nesting territories, usually from late December to the end of July (Pérez-Rivera 1993). During the rest of the year they aggregate in foraging flocks (Pérez-Rivera 1993).

Sexual Behavior

Mating has been observed to occur in the canopy (A. Morales pers. obs.).

Social and interspecific behavior

It is a gregarious species outside the breeding season. It has often been noted that it is the nucleus species of mixed species flocks. In the Luquillo Mountains it has been observed associated with Cape May (Setophaga tigrina) and Black-throated Blue (Setophaga caerulescens) warblers, occasionally joined by Pearly-eyed Thrasher (Margarops fuscatus), Bananaquit (Coereba flaveola) and Puerto Rican Spindalis (Spindalis portoricensis) (Recher, 1966). At the Maricao State Forest it has been reported in association with Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Loxigilla portoricensis), Black-whiskered Vireo (Vireo altiloquus), Puerto Rican Vireo (Vireo latimeri), Elfin-woods Warbler (Setophaga angelae), Black-throated Blue Warbler, Northern Parula (Setophaga americana), Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia), Puerto Rican Flycatcher (Myiarchus antillarum) and Lesser Antillean Pewee (Contopus latirostris) (J. Salguero & A. Morales pers. obs.).


In a study of patterns of prey abundance and use by Puerto Rican Sharp-shinned Hawks (Accipiter striatus venator), Puerto Rican Tanagers accounted for 14% of prey deliveries to nests by males, and 18% by females, to nests at the Maricao State Forest (Delannoy and Cruz 1999). Puerto Rican Tanager bones where found in numerous owl pellets (Wetmore 1927). Given that the birds gather in flocks and roost in plams, the birds make easy prey to night feeding owls (Wetmore 1922).

Recommended Citation

Morales, A. L. (2012). Puerto Rican Tanager (Nesospingus speculiferus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.purtan1.01