Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Flame-crested Tanager (Islerothraupis cristata)


French: Tangara à huppe ignée German: Feuerhaubentangare Spanish: Tangara crestifuego

Tanagra cristata


, 1766,

Cayenne, French Guiana


Shows marked geographical variation in plumage, with racial limits poorly defined; major review desirable. Very poorly known taxon nattereri, with orange crest, no throat patch, larger white wing patch and smaller buff rump patch, has been accorded species rank#R#R but distinctiveness of these characters requires re-evaluation; usually considered a race of present species or an aberrant madeirae. A female specimen once speculated to be of nattereri was subsequently reassigned to madeirae (recent “discovery” of an additional specimen, presumably of nattereri, may shed light on this question). Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • I. c. orinocensis (J. T. Zimmer & Phelps, Sr, 1945) – extreme E Colombia and S & SE Venezuela (N & E Amazonas and W Bolívar E to R Paragua and R Caroní).
  • I. c. intercedens (Berlepsch, 1880) – E Venezuela (E of R Caroní) E to Guyana and Suriname.
  • I. c. cristata (Linnaeus, 1766) – Flame-crested Tanager – French Guiana and NE Brazil (N of R Amazon and E of R Nhamundá).
  • I. c. cristatella (P. L. Sclater, 1862) – SE Colombia (from vicinity of Villavicencio, in Meta) and S Venezuela (SW Amazonas) S to extreme NW Peru and NW Brazil (S & E to Manaus).
  • I. c. fallax (J. T. Zimmer, 1945) – S Colombia (SE Nariño), E Ecuador and N Peru (S to lower R Ucayali).
  • I. c. huarandosae (Chapman, 1925) – Huarandosa (in Chinchipe Valley, near Marañón Valley) in N Peru.
  • I. c. madeirae (Hellmayr, 1910) – C Brazil S of Amazon (from Tefé E to R Xingu and S into Mato Grosso), also adjacent SE Peru (E Madre de Dios) and adjacent N Bolivia (Pando and N Beni).
  • I. c. pallidigula (J. T. Zimmer, 1945) – NE Brazil (Pará and lower R Tocantins).
  • I. c. brunnea (Spix, 1825) – E Brazil from Rio Grande do Norte S, discontinuously, to NE Santa Catarina; possibly also Maranhão E to Paraíba.
  • I. c. nattereri (Pelzeln, 1870) – Natterer's Tanager – WC Mato Grosso (Villa Maria, near Cáceres), in SW Brazil.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; 16·6–23 g. Canopy-dwelling tanager with fairly short thick bill and small orangish to red bib; crest often less impressive than its vernacular name suggests. Male... read more


    Thin “seeep” and “chet” notes during foraging. Song at Alta Floresta (Brazil) a rather uninspired... read more


    Over most of Amazonian range found in terra firme forest and in tall old second growth;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mostly arthropods and fruit. Of eight stomachs examined, four contained only vegetable matter and two only animal matter, and two contained... read more


    One in breeding condition on 25th Jan in Colombia (Macarena Mts). Nest reported as being a small open cup placed in bush or small palm near... read more


    Apparently resident in all areas. Seasonal movements possible in extreme S parts of range in SE... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and typically fairly common. Occurs in many protected areas, including e.g. Canaima National Park (Venezuela), Iwokrama Wilderness Reserve... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2020). Flame-crested Tanager (Islerothraupis cristata). 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 25 February 2020).