The Hepatic Tanager is very similar to the Summer Tanager, albeit with darker colors, and the fact that the Hepatic Tanager is resident to Costa Rica helps to identify it from April to September when the Summer Tanager has not arrived to Costa Rica yet. They usually are seen in the middle elevations of the country, in cloud forest reserves like El Copal.
The White-line Tanager has strong dymorphism, with the male being black with a small white line on the shoulder, and the female being entirely rufous. They normally forage in pairs, which helps in identifying them. Males can look very much like Scarlet-rumped Tanagers when the rump is not visible, but the bill is gray instead of blueish. The female is also similar to the Scarlet-rumped, however it has no marks and a black bill. They also approach fruit feeders but are more wary than Scarlet-rumped preferring to forage in the dense vegetation.
The Black-capped Tanager is a member of the Tangara genus, and as such it is pretty similar in size and shape to other members of this genus that we spotted in Colombia, like the Golden Tanager and the Saffron-crowned Tanager. The adult male has a distinctive blueish plumage, darker on the wings, with a black cap and turquoise throat; the juvenile is similar but with overall duller colors and the head and throat colors not well defined. The female has greenish plumage instead and lacks the black cap. For all the Tangara species we saw at Finca Alejandría, this and the Scrub Tanager were the rarest ones.
The Silver-beaked Tanager is relatively big among tanagers, but has a streamlined body. Their beak is indeed silver, but the most striking feature of the species is the deep red colors of the feathers, which are lighter on the belly and darker on the throat and head. They are very active and move rapidly along the foliage as they search for fruit and insects. It can be seen on the picture below that the bird is in a position to take off the branch.
Although it bears some similarity with the Golden-naped and the Black-capped Tanagers, we did not see many Scrub Tanagers during our visit to Finca Alejandría. I just saw this individual as it approached one of the feeders and stayed long enough at the perch for me to snap one picture. They have a gray body with blueish wings, a black mask and its rust colored cap. The species seems to be very shy of people, as the bird did not actually come to the feeder and stayed at a safe distance on the branch. This may be due to its preference to live in bushy areas.
Don’t get confused by the name, this is not the Scarlet Tanager, which incidentally has very bright red colors. The Scarlet-bellied Mountain-Tanager is just unbelievably handsome. It has a dark body which can look blueish under the right light. The belly is a deep scarlet color, although some subspecies may show different shades of this red. It also has a red patch on the ear, and two blue patches, one in the shoulder and the other on the rump. Just as its name, it is a very elegant bird, specially when set against a contrasting green background. It shares the same genus with the Blue-winged and the Lachrymose Mountain-Tanagers, however I really find this species to be pinnacle of beauty. We saw them at about 3,000 meters above sea level, during our visit to Termales del Ruiz.
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.
The Rufous-throated Tanager is very peculiar, with a mottled body all around, a pattern that is only broken by the black head and rufous throat. The pattern is composed of dark feathers with orange lining on the back and wings, and light yellow feathers with black spots of different shapes on the belly. In terms of body shape, it is very similar to the Silver-throated Tanager, which they shared the feeder at Doña Dora’s restaurant in Cali.
The Purplish-mantled Tanager was a great sight as we traveled down the trail at Tatama National Park. We were in search of the Gold-ringed Tanager, an endemic specialty of the zone, however this tanager also surprised us a few times with its presence. Its body is blue, with a heavier tone on the face, chest and head, and has a bright yellow-orange throat that creates a lot of contrast. The bill is short but wide. Its diet is mainly composed of insects, however it also eats some of the berries found on the mossy forest that covers the medium elevations of Pereira. They inhabit the cloud forests of the Andes and forage at a relatively low height. They move very rapidly from branch to branch.
When we heard the name of this species, we immediately held high expectations of it, and when we finally saw it, we were not disappointed. The male has a striking combination of dark yellow, light yellow, black, brown, light blue and green, which means six colors in a single bird. Although the female lacks the black patch in the belly and the light yellow back, it is still pretty colorful. It is a bit larger than most other tanagers we saw in Finca Alejandría. It was curious how the pair of birds would return every now and then to the same exact feeder and after drinking some sugary water, disappeared without a trace. Most other species chose more than one feeder, but this one only returned to the same one time after time. It is endemic to Colombia and its population is heavily endangered, as their numbers have been declining. It is a shame that such a beauty of nature is being erased from our world.