Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus)


French: Tangara à dos rouge German: Scharlachbauchtangare Spanish: Tangara dorsirroja

Ramphocelus dimidiatus


, 1837,

Cartagena, Colombia


Geographical variation minimal, and taxonomic review of the various described races desirable; molochinus possibly indistinguishable from nominate. Proposed race isthmicus (described from Frijoles Station, on Panama Railroad) invalid, as supposed differences attributable to age and individual variation. Four subspecies provisionally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • R. d. arestus Wetmore, 1957 – Coiba I, off SW Panama.
  • R. d. dimidiatus Lafresnaye, 1837 – Panama (except NW) E across N Colombia (S to upper Cauca Valley, middle Magdalena Valley, and Norte de Santander) to W Venezuela (Maracaibo region and W slope of Andes).
  • R. d. limatus Bangs, 1901 – Pearl Archipelago, in Gulf of Panama.
  • R. d. molochinus Meyer de Schauensee, 1950 – upper Magdalena Valley, in Colombia.
  • Introduced on Tahiti, in Society Is.

    Descriptive notes

    16 cm; c. 24–34 g. Stout-billed tanager with lower mandible notably enlarged at base. Male nominate race has head, mantle, throat and chest deep blackish maroon-red, becoming... read more


    Dawn and day song in Venezuela, typically from semi-exposed perch c. 3–12 m up, a long, slow series... read more


    Thickets, shrubby clearings, cultivated areas, parks, gardens, and moist to humid forest borders;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Of six stomachs examined, three contained only vegetable matter and three contained both animal and vegetable matter; contents included... read more


    Breeding reported in Feb–Jun in Panama; in Colombia, juvenile seen in Feb and eggs in May in Colombia, and 14 breeding-condition birds Apr–... read more


    Resident; no local or seasonal movements reported.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to locally common in variety of forest-edge, shrubby and settled areas. Since 1990 or earlier, in Colombia, a small population has been... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2020). Crimson-backed Tanager (Ramphocelus dimidiatus). 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 26 February 2020).