Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola)


French: Calliste rouverdin German: Rötelkopftangare Spanish: Tangara cabecibaya

Fringilla Gyrola


, 1758,



Close to T. lavinia; replaced by latter in wet Chocó–Pacific lowlands. Races appear to form three plumage groups: “albertinae group”, with blue underparts and rump (in W & S); “viridissima group”, with green underparts and rump (in N); and single-taxon “gyrola group”, with mixed underparts and green rump (in E & SE); these have in the past been treated as three separate species, but geographical pattern of character distribution renders such an arrangement problematic, and calls appear similar across range; further study desirable. Name “gyroloides”, dating to 1847, was in the past applied variously to birds of races deleticia, albertinae and catharinae; however, it is a replacement name for the preoccupied “Aglaïa Peruviana”, which is itself unidentifiable owing to contradictory features in the description. Nine subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. g. bangsi (Hellmayr, 1911) – Nicaragua, Costa Rica and W Panama (E to Panamá Province).
  • T. g. deleticia (Bangs, 1908) – E Panama (Darién) and generally in W Colombia (E to W slope of E Andes, S to Patía Valley, in Nariño).
  • T. g. nupera Bangs, 1917 – SW Colombia (Nariño S of Patía Valley), W Ecuador and NW Peru (Tumbes).
  • T. g. catharinae (Hellmayr, 1911) – E base of E Andes of Colombia (from Meta and Macarena Mts) S to E Ecuador, E Peru and Bolivia (S to Cochabamba and W Santa Cruz).
  • T. g. parva J. T. Zimmer, 1943 – S Venezuela (SW Amazonas), adjacent E Colombia, and mountains of adjacent N Brazil (upper R Negro).
  • T. g. albertinae (Pelzeln, 1877) – Bay-and-blue Tanager – NE Peru (Loreto) and Brazil S of R Amazon (from R Purus E to NE Pará and S to N & C Mato Grosso).
  • T. g. toddi Bangs & T. E. Penard, 1921 – N Colombia (Santa Marta Mts, Sierra de Perijá, and E slope of E Andes in Norte de Santander and N Boyacá) and mountains of W & N Venezuela (E to Miranda).
  • T. g. viridissima (Lafresnaye, 1847) – Bay-and-green Tanager – mountains of NE Venezuela (NE Anzoátegui, Sucre, N Monagas) and Trinidad.
  • T. g. gyrola (Linnaeus, 1758) – Bay-headed Tanager – S Venezuela (from N Amazonas and NW Bolívar) E across the Guianas and extreme N Brazil (headwaters of R Uraricoera E to C & S Amapá).
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; 17·5–26·5 g. Small rufous-headed tanager, highly variable in plumage. Nominate race has entire head to hindcrown, chin and upper throat brownish-... read more


    Call, one of the most distinctive among this vocally undistinguished group, a buzzy “seeaawee... read more


    Wide range of humid and wet forest habitats, including tall lowland forest, mossy cloudforest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruits, some arthropods. Of twelve stomachs examined, ten contained only vegetable matter and two contained vegetable and animal matter,... read more


    In Costa Rica breeding Feb–Sept, sometimes three broods attempted; in Colombia 13 birds in breeding condition Apr–Sept, begging... read more


    Resident. Some short seasonal movements, apparently in response to fruit availability, reported in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common to uncommon; widespread. Abundance varies, generally uncommon in lowlands, locally quite common in highlands. Some races apparently... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2020). Bay-headed Tanager (Tangara gyrola). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 28 January 2020).