tanager tăn´əjər [key], any of the small, migratory perching birds of the family Thraupidae, chiefly of the tropical New World. Only five species migrate to North America; of these the scarlet tanager ( Piranga olivacea ) has the widest range in the United States. It is about 7 in. (18 cm) long. As in most tanagers, only the male has brilliant plumage; it is scarlet with black wings, tail, and beak. The song of the scarlet tanager is less melodious than that of the rosy-red summer tanager ( P. rubra ) of the South. The male western, or Louisiana, tanager ( P. ludoviciana ) is yellow, black, and red. Females of these species are olive green above and yellow below. Darwin's finches , originally classified as finches, are in fact members of the tanager family. Tanagers are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Thraupidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology