Crimson-collared Tanager Ramphocelus sanguinolentus

Ragupathy Kannan, Anant Deshwal, Pooja Panwar, Steven Hilty, and Eduardo de Juana
Version: 2.0 — Published May 7, 2020


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The Crimson-collared Tanager is a distinctive and boldly-patterned tanager. The plumage is mainly glossy black, although the crown, neck, breast, and tail coverts are a deep crimson red. The bill is pale bluish gray. Males and females are similar. The juvenile is duller, only a brick red rather than bright crimson, but quickly obtains the full plumage of the adult.

Similar Species

Crimson-collared Tanager has a very distinctive plumage pattern, and is not likely to be confused with any other species within its range. The colors are duller in juveniles, but the pattern is similar to that of the adult, which precludes confusion with other species (1). Adult males of the related and sympatric Scarlet-rumped Tanager (R. passerinii) have similarly bold black-and-red coloration and a bluish bill but they lack the distinctive red hood of the Crimson-Collared Tanager. The thick bill may suggest a grosbeak (2); Crimson-collared Grosbeak (Rhodothraupis celaeno) is allopatric, and has the entire head black, has no red on the rump, and its bill is even thicker and is blackish.


Plumage description based on Ridgway (3); see also Wetmore et al (4).


Duller in color; generally dark brown (not black), and the bright red of the adult is replaced with orangish red. The underwing coverts are pale brownish red.


Sexes similar. Mostly black. The black has a faint bluish gloss, especially on the back , scapulars, and edges of the wing coverts. Crown, nape, sides of the neck, and breast glossy blood-red or crimson, forming a red hood surrounding a black face and throat. Rump and upper- and undertail coverts also blood-red or crimson. The underwing coverts vermillion red.


Tanagers that have been studied have either a Complex Basic Strategy or Complex Alternative Strategy (5). However, most tanagers only molt once a year (6), and this prebasic molt likely occurs after the breeding season (6, 5). Patterns of molt are not well known in this species, including timing of molt in juveniles and adults. A male collected on 1 October in Guatemala was noted to be molting (7). In Costa Rica, the related Scarlet-rumped Tanager (R. passerinii) completes a definitive prebasic molt between March and December (8).

Bare Parts


Silvery white, often with a thin black line along the tomia (9), or pale plumbeous blue, becoming bluish white basally (10); bill of immature duller, tomia grayish-horn. Relatively thick and conical in shape.


Red (10, 11) to reddish brown (12, 13)

Legs and Feet

Blue gray (14), slate gray (10), or black (9).


Linear Measurements

Total length

15.24 - 20 cm (2, 14)

Wing span

83 – 94 mm (15).

Other Measurements from (4):

Male (n = 10)

Female (n = 10)

Wing length

mean 88.7 mm (range 82.0 – 92.6 mm)

mean 87.4 mm (range 82.0 – 92.6 mm)

Tail length

mean 73.5 mm (range 69.4 – 77.6 mm)

75.0 mm (range 69.8 – 78.7 mm)

Bill length (culmen from base)

mean 17.3 mm (range 15.9 - 18.9 mm, n=9)

mean 16.6 mm (range 15.4 - 17.6 mm)

Tarsus length

mean 19.9 mm (range 18.4 – 21.3 mm)

mean 20.6 mm (range 18.6 – 22.3 mm)


  • Sexes combined, mean 41 g (range 34.7 – 48.1 g, n = 27) (6).
  • Male, mean 38.5 m (range 34.7-40.9 g, n = 8) (16).
  • Female, 48.1 g (n = 1) (16)

Recommended Citation

Kannan, R., A. Deshwal, P. Panwar, S. Hilty, and E. de Juana (2020). Crimson-collared Tanager (Ramphocelus sanguinolentus), version 2.0. In Birds of the World (T. S. Schulenberg, S. M. Billerman, and B. K. Keeney, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.crctan1.02