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Blue-Gray Tanager

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Asa Wright, Arima Valley

Blue gray throughout but brighter blue on the upperparts and violet blue on the wing coverts.  The tail is dull blue edged bright blue. The bill is short and quite thick. Sexes are similar, but the immature is much duller in plumage. The size is 18 cm long and weight is 35g. There are 13 subspecies with varying shades of blue and white on the shoulders.. T. e. berlepschi is endemic to Tobago, and is a brighter and darker blue on the rump and shoulder. 

A common resident of Tobago and Trinidad, found in open woodland, cultivated areas and gardens. It is usually found in pairs, but sometimes in small groups. It will join with other species in feeding on fruits on the same tree. The Blue-gray Tanager lives mainly on fruit and eats while perched. With large fruit e.g. breadfruit or mangoes they peck at the fruit . Apart from the Violaceous Euphonia, they are the only tanager that feeds on the fruit of the Piper spp.

In addition to fruit, the Blue-Gray Tanager also takes some nectar from large flowering trees such as the Immortelle   (Erythrina micropteryx and Erythrina glauca) and Yellow Poui (Tabebuia serratifolia). They are also insect eaters. They tend to perch and look downwards when searching for food and examine the undersides of leaves and branches for insects. Very rarely will they feed on the ground. When insect searching they seek prey that moves to escape as opposed to prey that remains hidden in an attempt at escape.

Family - Tanager

Other Name - Blue Tanager

Local Names - Blue Jean, Bluebird

Latin Name - Thaupis episcopus

Range - Mexico south to northeast Bolivia and northern Brazil.

 

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Les Efforts, San Fernando

 

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Photo courtesy Stuart Elsom

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References

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds of the World, David Alderton. 2004 Lorenz Books, London

B.K. Snow & D. W. Snow, 1971. The Feeding Ecology of Tanages and Honeycreepers In Trinidad. The Auk, 88 291 - 322

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

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Last modified: February 16, 2008