Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Black-headed Tanager (Tangara argentea)


French: Calliste à tête noire German: Blauflügeltangare Spanish: Tangara cabecinegra
Other common names: Whitely's Tanager (whitelyi)

T[anagra]. argentea


, 1843,

“Bogotá ou Caracas”


Previously listed as T. cyanoptera; however, with merging of Thraupis into present genus, that name becomes preoccupied by what was previously known as Thraupis cyanoptera, and is replaced by next oldest name for present species, argentea. Instead of lumping Thraupis into Tangara, an alternative arrangement would involve the use of several resurrected and several new generic names, with Stilpnia being established for this species (which would then become S. cyanoptera), T. whitelyi, T. viridicollis, T. phillipsi, T. argyrofenges, T. heinei, T. larvata, T. cyanicollis, T. nigrocincta, T. peruviana, T. preciosa, T. meyerdeschauenseei, T. vitriolina, T. cayana, T. flava, T. versicolor and T. cucullata#R. Hitherto treated as conspecific with T. whitelyi; sister (with whitelyi) to group containing T. viridicollis, T. phillipsi, T. argyrofenges and T. heinei. Monotypic.


N Colombia (Santa Marta Mts, and both slopes of E Andes at N end), Sierra de Perijá, and W & N Venezuela (Andes from Lara S to Táchira, mountains of C Falcón and Yaracuy, and N cordilleras from Carabobo E to Sucre and Monagas).

Descriptive notes

13 cm, one female 18 g. Adult male has head to upper nape and throat black, with narrow white feathering on lores, submoustachial area and chin, rest of plumage shining... read more


Variety of very high-pitched, buzzy and lisping notes, e.g. “djeet”, during foraging, but otherwise... read more


Occurs in moist to moderately humid woodland, mainly along borders, scattered trees in clearings,... read more

Food and feeding

Variety of small fruits, e.g. recorded as taking melastome berries and Cecropia catkins; some arthropods. Usually seen singly or... read more


Nine birds in breeding condition in Mar–Jun in N Colombia; breeding reported in N Venezuela in Oct. Open-cup nest, sited 10 m above ground... read more


Predominantly resident. Some local movements, especially within drier habitats, seem likely.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common locally. Utilizes disturbed woodland, woodlots, small forest fragments, coffee plantations, and borders of more mature... read more

Recommended citation

Hilty, S. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Black-headed Tanager (Tangara argentea). 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 29 January 2020).