AppearanceMembers of the northern group are larger and stockier than other ''Piranga'' tanagers and have a relatively short tail and a stout bill. Its brightest color is always on its forehead and throat. In all plumages, it has gray flanks, dusky cheeks, and a dark eye streak. The female is yellow, and the male is red. Its average weight is 38 g. Its average wingspan is 31.8 cm and length is 20.3 cm.
NamingThe common name ''hepatic'' means "liver-coloured", namely, brownish-red. The specific name is Latin for yellow or golden. The habits of the hepatic tanager are similar to those of the western tanager.
It ranges from the southwestern United States to northern Argentina.
There are three subspecies groups, which may be separate species:
⤷ the ''hepatica'' group, breeding from Nicaragua north, in pine and pine-oak forests and partially migratory
⤷ the ''lutea'' group , resident from Costa Rica to northern and western South America in highland forest edges
⤷ the ''flava'' group , resident in open woods elsewhere in South America
BehaviorIts call is a low, dry ''chup'' like the hermit thrush. Its song is clearer than Thraupidae tanagers and far more similar to the song of the black-headed grosbeak, another member of the Cardinalidae. The flight call is a husky and rising ''weet''.
Even the northern population's behavior and life history are remarkably little known.
FoodIt looks for food in the foliage of trees, moving slowly and methodically; different individuals use different strategies. In summer, the northern form largely eats insects, spiders and some fruit. In Mexico, it has been observed to eat nectar. From Oaxaca south, it follows swarms of army ants.
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