Cherry-throated Tanager Nemosia rourei Scientific name definitions

Benjamin T. Phalan, Gustavo R. Magnago, and Steven Hilty
Version: 2.0 — Published February 9, 2024


Field Identification

The Cherry-throated Tanager is 12.5 cm and weighs 22 g. It is readily identified within its restricted range by its scarlet throat patch, extending to the upper breast; its broad black mask; pale pearl gray crown with whitish margin; black and gray upperparts; and whitish underparts subtly washed with pearl gray. The iris is amber yellow to deep amber. The bill is black. Legs and feet are pinkish, with slightly darker claws. Sexes are similar. Juvenile has a duller-colored throat patch.

Similar Species

With its red throat, black mask, and amber-colored eye, this species is very distinctive and, if seen well, is unlikely to be confused with any other.

Within the range and habitat of the Cherry-throated Tanager, the Rufous-headed Tanager (Hemithraupis ruficapilla) also often joins in mixed-species flocks in the forest canopy. The male has a reddish throat and upper breast, and has been mistaken for this species by observers unfamiliar with the species (G. R. Magnago, personal observation); with good views its more chestnut-toned throat, rufous breast, greenish upperparts, lack of black mask, and yellow neck patch, amongst other features, should make it easily distinguishable.

The only other species in the genus, the Hooded Tanager (Nemosia pileata), is smaller, lacks any red, and is found at lower elevations, being consequently extremely unlikely to occur in the same mixed-species flocks (to date, there have been no confirmed claims of their co-occurrence). The species’ vocalizations are also distinctive and have been reported (1) as bearing a certain resemblance to those of the Red-billed Pied Tanager (Lamprospiza melanoleuca) ; however, the latter is exclusively Amazonian in distribution.

The species’ black, gray, white and red plumage is superficially similar to that of cardinals, such as the Red-cowled Cardinal (Paroaria dominicana), which was considered a potential confusion species in 1994 (2); however, this species is very different in habits, habitat, and plumage details, and is not found in the small area of occurrence of the Cherry-throated Tanager.

Recommended Citation

Phalan, B. T., G. R. Magnago, and S. Hilty (2024). Cherry-throated Tanager (Nemosia rourei), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (G. M. Kirwan, B. K. Keeney, and N. D. Sly, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.chttan1.02