Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Blue-grey Tanager (Tangara episcopus)


French: Tangara évêque German: Bischofstangare Spanish: Tangara azuleja

Tanagra Episcopus


, 1766,

probably Cayenne, French Guiana


Commonly treated (along with T. sayaca, T. glaucocolpa, T. cyanoptera, T. whitelyi, T. abbas, T. ornata and T. palmarum) in Thraupis (see Genus Tangara). Formerly known as T. virens, but present name (of same date) given priority. Sometimes considered conspecific with T. sayaca and/or T. glaucocolpa, but believed to differ vocally from T. sayaca and differs markedly from T. glaucocolpa in plumage, voice and habitat; extent, if any, to which race beniensis of T. sayaca overlaps in N Bolivia with present species, with which it shares some plumage features (e.g. white on shoulder), requires investigation. Some geographical variation within present species is significant, and races grouped here under name cana might well merit species rank (especially as they appear, superficially at least, closer to T. sayaca than to races grouped under episcopus), whereas several races seem barely worthy of recognition; full review warranted. Race ehrenreichi long treated as synonymous with coelestis but now known to be distinct, but mediana might be a synonym of ehrenreichi. With merging of Thraupis and Tangara, subspecies names berlepschi and urubambae become preoccupied; recently replaced by new names prysjonesi and johntoddzimmeri respectively#R. Fourteen subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. e. cana (Swainson, 1835) – Blue-grey Tanager#RSE Mexico (from extreme SE San Luis Potosí) S through Central America, including Pearl Is (off S Panama), to Colombia W of E Andes, Caribbean coast and N Venezuela (E to Sucre and Monagas).
  • T. e. caesitia (Wetmore, 1959) – I Escudo de Veraguas (Bocas del Toro), off NW Panama.
  • T. e. cumatilis (Wetmore, 1957) – Coiba I, off SW Panama.
  • T. e. nesophila (Riley, 1912) – extreme NE Colombia, S & E Venezuela, and Trinidad.
  • T. e. prysjonesi Collar & Kirwan, 2016 – Tobago.
  • T. e. quaesita (Bangs & Noble, 1918) – SW Colombia (W Nariño) S on Pacific slope to NW Peru.
  • T. e. leucoptera (P. L. Sclater, 1886) – E slope of Andes in Colombia (Cundinamarca and Meta).
  • T. e. mediana (J. T. Zimmer, 1944) – E Colombia, extreme S Venezuela (S Amazonas, S Bolívar) and N Brazil (E to R Jamundá, and S of Amazon between R Madeira and R Tapajós) S to N Bolivia.
  • T. e. coelestis (Spix, 1825) – SE Colombia, W Brazil (E to R Negro and R Madeira) and NE Ecuador S to C Peru.
  • T. e. ehrenreichi (Reichenow, 1915) – R Purus (NW Brazil).
  • T. e. episcopus (Linnaeus, 1766) – White-edged Tanager – the Guianas, and N Brazil E of R Jamundá to NW Maranhão, and S to SE Pará and N Mato Grosso.
  • T. e. caerulea (J. T. Zimmer, 1929) – SE Ecuador and N Peru (S to Huánuco).
  • T. e. major (Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1896) – Chanchamayo Valley, in C Peru.
  • T. e. johntoddzimmeri A. Elliott, 2016 – Urubamba Valley and Amazonian drainage, in SE Peru.
  • Descriptive notes

    16 cm; 27–45 g. A pale grey and blue tanager with rather short, stout bill. Nominate race has entire head and underparts pale grey with variable blue to glaucous wash,... read more


    Song, by both sexes (apparently briefer and weaker by female), a complex series of squeaky and... read more


    Broad spectrum of essentially non-forest habitats, including all kinds of settled areas,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly fruits and arthropods; also nectar. Eleven stomachs contained only vegetable matter; contents of other stomachs were mistletoe... read more


    Season mostly Feb–Jul in Middle America, Jan–Jul in Panama; more or less all months in N South America from Colombia E to... read more


    Resident. Some local movements in response to changing fruit abundance may take place.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and abundant. Perhaps the most familiar of all tanagers to rural and urban inhabitants alike, and one of the most familiar birds in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2020). Blue-grey Tanager (Tangara episcopus). 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 21 February 2020).