Saffron-crowned Tanager (Tangara xanthocephala)

The Saffron-crowned Tanager is very confusing, since its plumage coloration can change a lot depending on the prevailing light. One thing that not changes and that really identifies this species is the yellow head with black mask. The body is either turquoise with green patches, or light green with turquoise patches. Whichever the color seen, it has a spotted appearance on the back and black wing feathers with turquoise/green linings. The belly and vent are white. In terms of body shape, it is very similar to the Gold Tanager, but with a very different coloration; this made them unmistakable even though they often shared the same feeder at Finca Alejandría.

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Tangara xanthocephala - Tangará Coronada (2)

There is so much contrast in this species’ plumage coloration. The light blue body has some shades of green. But depending how you look, it might be the other way around.

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Tangara xanthocephala - Tangará Coronada (3)

This is the exact same species, but now the body is mainly green. This is due to the angle of light that reaches the bird and is well documented.

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Tangara xanthocephala - Tangará Coronada (4)

The head shares a yellowish mask, with chin and throat being black, as well as the very back of the nape.

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Tangara xanthocephala - Tangará Coronada (5)

It can be confusing to see such changes in color in a single bird. It almost rivals some of the hummingbirds with their iridescence.

Saffron-crowned Tanager - Tangara xanthocephala - Tangará Coronada

It travels in groups and likes to feed in fruit feeders, sharing space with the Golden Tanager and some others.

One thought on “Saffron-crowned Tanager (Tangara xanthocephala)

  1. Pingback: Black-capped Tanager (Tangara heinei) | The Nature Admirer

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