Azure-rumped tanager (Tangara cabanisi)

Azure-rumped tanager
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Azure-rumped tanager fact file

Azure-rumped tanager description

GenusTangara (1)

The azure-rumped tanager is a stunning bird, which is found only in a very small area of Mexico and Guatemala, and has predominantly sky-blue plumage. The iris and the region between the eye and the bill are black, giving the appearance of a mask, and the crown is a purplish-blue. The back is mottled green, and the underparts are pale and scaled black on the breast. There are also black patches in the centre of the uppertail and at the tops of the wings (2). Sexes are similar in appearance, but juveniles differ by having duller plumage (3). The azure-rumped tanager can be heard calling when moving from tree to tree; calls include flat bursts of ticking notes, a low, slow se-e-eet or a loud and excited chi-tuck tweet (4).

Length: 15 cm (2)

Azure-rumped tanager biology

The azure-rumped tanager is a social species that is frequently seen in flocks of six to eight birds, foraging in the tree tops (4). The cup-shaped nest is concealed in dense foliage in the largest trees in the forest, in which a clutch of two eggs is incubated for 14 days. This occurs from mid-April to mid-June, in the early wet season. The azure-rumped tanager exhibits social breeding behaviour, that is, adults other than the parents contribute to the breeding activities by assisting with feeding the chicks a diet of insects and fruit. The chicks leave the nest after approximately 15 days (3).


Azure-rumped tanager range

The azure-rumped tanager occurs in the Sierra Madre de Chiapas in south-west Mexico, and the adjacent area in Guatemala (3).


Azure-rumped tanager habitat

The azure-rumped tanager inhabits humid evergreen broadleaf forest, between elevations of 1,000 and 1,700 meters in Mexico, and up to 1,800 meters in Guatemala (2).


Azure-rumped tanager status

The azure-rumped tanager is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Endangered


Azure-rumped tanager threats

The azure-rumped tanager is threatened by the loss of its forest habitat due to fires, logging and agriculture. The area in which it inhabits is optimal land for the cultivation of coffee. As human populations in the region grow, the pressure on the remaining natural forest will only increase (2) (5).


Azure-rumped tanager conservation

The azure-rumped tanager occurs within the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve, an important area protecting some of the last remaining tracts of Central American cloud forest and Pacific Coast tropical evergreen forest. It is a refuge for many rare and endangered species, including the azure-rumped tanager. However, this too is threatened by the activities of the region’s growing human population (6). Ensuring effective protection of the El Triunfo Biosphere Reserve is one measure proposed to protect populations of the azure-rumped tanager, as well as carrying out surveys and creating new protected areas within its range (2).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.

Find out more

For further information on this species see:



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Searching for food.


  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2007)
  2. Birdlife International (May, 2007)
  3. Long, A.J. and Heath, M.F. (1994) Nesting ecology and helping behaviour in the azure-rumped tanager in Mexico. The Condor, 96: 1095 - 1099.
  4. Hilty, S.L. and Simon, D. (1977) The azure-rumped tanager in Mexico with comparative remarks on the gray-and-gold tanager. Auk, 94: 605 - .
  5. Wild World Ecoregion Profile (May, 2007)
  6. Nature Conservancy (May, 2007)

Image credit

Azure-rumped tanager  
Azure-rumped tanager

© Amy McAndrews

Amy McAndrews


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