Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager)

Chrysothylpis chrysomelas

Last updated: October 12, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
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They swallow soft fruit whole

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Thraupidae
Family
Thraupidae
Genus
Chrysothylpis
Scientific Name
Chrysothylpis chrysomelas

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) Conservation Status

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) Locations

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) Locations

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) Facts

Prey
Small fruit, insects, and spiders
Name Of Young
Chicks
Group Behavior
  • Social
Fun Fact
They swallow soft fruit whole
Estimated Population Size
50,000 to 500,000
Biggest Threat
Habitat loss to their forest homes
Most Distinctive Feature
Contrasting black and yellow colors
Distinctive Feature
long bills and thick necks
Habitat
Wet forest canopies and second-growth forests
Diet
Omnivore
Lifestyle
  • Diurnal
Favorite Food
Beetles, flies, crickets, and more
Type
Bird
Common Name
Black-and-yellow tanager
Number Of Species
2
Location
Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama
Nesting Location
Tree branch

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Yellow
  • Black
  • Olive
Skin Type
Feathers
Lifespan
2 to 3 years on average
Weight
0.44 ounces
Length
4.7 inches

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“They feed on small fruit, which they swallow whole.”

Summary

The yellow tanager (black-and-yellow tanager) is a small passerine bird endemic to South America. It inhabits forest canopies, edges, and clearings near the Caribbean in the foothills of central mountains. While this species is relatively common in its habitat, there is much we still don’t know. However, you can find out what we do know, including its habitat, appearance, and diet.

5 Amazing Yellow Tanager Facts

  • Yellow tanagers live in wet forest canopies in the foothills of South America’s central mountain ranges.
  • They eat small fruit, swallowing them whole. They also consume insects and spiders.
  • This species is social. You can often find them foraging in small groups or mixed-species flocks.
  • Their genus name is Ancient Greek for “gold.”
  • Researchers have yet to study this species thoroughly. We don’t know much about the black-and-yellow tanager, including its behavior, reproduction, and defense.

Where to Find the Yellow Tanager

The yellow tanager lives in three countries in South America: Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama. These birds are nonmigratory, meaning they stay in their environments year-round due to the abundant food supply and shelter. It prefers to live in wet forest canopies and second-growth forests. However, it will forage at edges and clearings. You will find this species on the foothills and slopes on the Caribbean side of the central mountain ranges. These birds are rarely alone, choosing to forage in small groups or flocks. Look for their bright, contrasting yellow and black colors and listen for their high-pitched, scratchy calls.

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Scientific Name

The yellow tanager (Chrysothlypis Chrysomelas) is from the Thraupidae family, which comprises a large portion of neotropical perching birds. Its genus, Chrysothlypis, includes a small group of tanagers from humid forests in Central and South America. Its genus name is Ancient Greek for “gold.” There are two recognized subspecies of the yellow tanager.

Size, Appearance, & Behavior

Black and Yellow Tanager
The yellow tanager (black-and-yellow tanager) is a small passerine bird, measuring 4.7 inches long and weighing 0.44 ounces with an unknown wingspan.

©Wirestock Creators/Shutterstock.com

The yellow tanager (black-and-yellow tanager) is a small passerine bird, measuring 4.7 inches long and weighing 0.44 ounces with an unknown wingspan. They have long, slender bills, thick necks, large eyes, and medium-sized wings. Adult males have bright yellow heads and underparts with black backs, wings, and tails. Females and immatures have yellow underparts with olive heads, backs, wings, and tails. The yellow tanager’s calls are high, fast, and scratchy. They are relatively social, often found in small groups or mixed-species flocks. Their foraging behavior is slow and deliberate, taking their time looking for insects in trees and shrubs.

Diet

Yellow tanagers are omnivores that forage in groups.

What Does the Yellow Tanager Eat?

Their diet features small fruit (which they swallow whole), insects, and spiders. A typical insect diet for tanagers consists of beetles, flies, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, and more. These birds are often in small groups. But they typically forage in a mixed-species flock. Look for them in trees or shrubs, slowly surveying their food options. Their movements are deliberate and focused.

Predators, Threats, and Conservation Status

The IUCN lists the yellow tanager (black-and-yellow tanager) as LC or “least concern.” Due to its relatively large range and significant population size, this species does not meet the “threatened” status thresholds. We do not know what threatens the yellow tanager, but they may be affected by habitat loss from the destruction of their forest homes. Tanagers are also highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, such as wildfires and spring heat waves which can threaten their young and reproduction chances.

What Eats the Yellow Tanager?

Like other tanagers, this species can become prey for carnivorous birds like falcons, hawks, and owls. Their nest may be vulnerable to snakes, monkeys, and larger birds. While we’re not entirely sure how they defend their nests, they most likely give warning calls, chase, and dive at intruders. 

Reproduction, Young, and Molting

The nesting season in South America is usually during the winter in December. Females build a neatly woven nest cup, which they place on a tree branch. Their reproduction has not been adequately studied, but they may lay between three and five eggs like other tanager species. We do not know how prolonged incubation lasts or when the young fledge the nest. Their average lifespan is only two to three years.

Population

The global population of the black-and-yellow tanager is between 50,000 and 500,000 mature individuals. This species is relatively common in its habitat but is experiencing a slight decline. However, it does not appear to be a significant issue, and they are not going through extreme fluctuations or fragmentations.

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Sources:

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About the Author

Niccoy is a professional writer and content creator focusing on nature, wildlife, food, and travel. She graduated Kappa Beta Delta from Florida State College with a business degree before realizing writing was her true passion. She lives in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and enjoys hiking, reading, and cooking!

Yellow Tanager (Black-and-Yellow Tanager) FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where do yellow tanagers live?

The yellow tanager lives in three countries in South America: Colombia, Costa Rica, and Panama. It prefers to live in wet forest canopies and second-growth forests.

How big is the yellow tanager?

The yellow tanager (black-and-yellow tanager) is a small passerine bird, measuring 4.7 inches long and weighing 0.44 ounces with an unknown wingspan.

What do yellow tanagers eat?

Their diet features small fruit (which they swallow whole), insects, and spiders. A typical insect diet for tanagers consists of beetles, flies, crickets, grasshoppers, ants, and more.

What threatens the yellow tanager?

We do not know what threatens the yellow tanager, but they may be affected by habitat loss from the destruction of their forest homes. Tanagers are also highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change

What are yellow tanager predators?

Like other tanagers, this species can become prey for carnivorous birds like falcons, hawks, and owls. Their nest may be vulnerable to snakes, monkeys, and larger birds.

How many eggs does the yellow tanager lay?

Their reproduction has not been adequately studied, but they may lay between three and five eggs.

How large is the yellow tanager population?

The global population of the black-and-yellow tanager is between 50,000 and 500,000 mature individuals.

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Sources
  1. Red List / BirdLife International, Available here: https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/22722281/137103514

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