Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Blue-capped Tanager (Sporathraupis cyanocephala)


French: Tangara à tête bleue German: Blaukopftangare Spanish: Tangara coroniazul

A[glaia]. cyanocephala

d’Orbigny and Lafresnaye

, 1837,

Yungas, Bolivia


Exhibits considerable geographical variation, especially in N of range; race olivicyanea, with its blue vs blue-grey underparts, has been regarded as a separate species, but intergrades with others and is not otherwise differentiated. Eight subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. c. olivicyanea (Lafresnaye, 1843) – Blue-bellied Tanager – coastal cordillera of N Venezuela (Aragua E to Miranda).
  • S. c. subcinerea (P. L. Sclater, 1861) – Sucre (except Paria Peninsula) and N Monagas, in NE Venezuela.
  • S. c. buesingi Hellmayr & Seilern, 1913 – extreme NE Venezuela (Paria Peninsula); N Trinidad.
  • S. c. margaritae Chapman, 1912 – Santa Marta Mts, in N Colombia.
  • S. c. auricrissa (P. L. Sclater, 1856) – Andes of W Venezuela (Trujillo S to Táchira) and adjacent Colombia (Norte de Santander S to Cundinamarca), also Sierra de Perijá on Colombia–Venezuela border.
  • S. c. hypophaea Todd, 1917 – Andes of NW Venezuela (in Lara).
  • S. c. annectens (J. T. Zimmer, 1944) – C & W Andes of Colombia.
  • S. c. cyanocephala (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837) – Blue-capped Tanager – Andes of Ecuador (both slopes) S through Peru (mainly E slope) to N Bolivia.
  • Descriptive notes

    16 cm; 27–47 g. Medium-sized blue-headed tanager. Nominate race has crown, nape and side of head shining cornflower-blue, lores black, becoming blackish around eye,... read more


    Not especially vocal. Song may vary somewhat geographically. In Venezuela a twittery, unmusical... read more


    Humid, montane forest borders, adjacent overgrown highland pastures with scattered taller trees,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Fruit and insects. Feed heavily on fruit; in Cundinamarca (Colombia) often eats berries of Oreopanax, Miconia and ... read more


    Nest found in Jun in Trinidad; 23 breeding-condition birds during Apr–Sept in Colombia. Trinidad nest a deep cup built 8 m above... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread in disturbed and younger second-growth habitats throughout middle elevations in Andes. Occurs in many protected areas, but also... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2020). Blue-capped Tanager (Sporathraupis cyanocephala). 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 23 January 2020).