Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Grey-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata)


French: Tangara à tête grise German: Graukopftangare Spanish: Tangara cabecigrís

Tanagra penicillata


, 1825,

no locality = Fonte Boa, Amazonas, Brazil


Species shows considerable geographical variation in size and plumage. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. p. pallida Berlepsch, 1888 – SE Mexico (on Caribbean slope from S Veracruz, N Oaxaca, and Yucatán Peninsula), N & C Guatemala, Belize and N Honduras (S to Olancho).
  • E. p. spodocephalus (Bonaparte, 1853) – Northern Grey-headed Tanager – both slopes of Nicaragua S to Costa Rica (S on Pacific slope to Guanacaste and on Caribbean slope to Alajuela).
  • E. p. stictothorax Berlepsch, 1888 – Pacific slope of Costa Rica (S from Puntarenas) S to Panama (Veraguas).
  • E. p. cristata (du Bus de Gisignies, 1855) – Panama (Caribbean slope from Coclé E to C Panama, and Pacific slope E from Veraguas) E to Colombia (S in Cauca Valley to Valle, and in Magdalena Valley to Huila; also E of Andes in Arauca), and NW Venezuela (E to Mérida and extreme W Portuguesa).
  • E. p. affinis Berlepsch, 1888 – N Venezuela from Falcón E to Miranda.
  • E. p. penicillata (Spix, 1825) – Southern Grey-headed Tanager – E of Andes from Colombia (Meta and Amazonas) S through E Ecuador to Peru (Ucayali), and E across much of NC Brazil to Atlantic coast (W Maranhão); also S Venezuela (NW Amazonas) and the Guianas.
  • E. p. albicollis (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837) – E of Andes from N Bolivia (Pando, La Paz and Santa Cruz) E across C Brazil (Mato Grosso E to Minas Gerais and W São Paulo); also NE Paraguay (sight record Concepción).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–17 cm; 22·5–35 g. Nominate race has grey head, large bushy crest (white at feather bases usually concealed); upperparts including uppertail-coverts... read more


    Songs may vary somewhat geographically (or possibly individually), but are typically high-pitched... read more


    Varies over broad range. In N of range and W & N of Andes occurs in undergrowth of both dry and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods; also fruit, including Miconia berries, arillate seeds etc. Nestling diet mostly insects. Found singly and in pairs in... read more


    Breeding reported in Apr in Belize; breeds Mar–Jul (two broods) in Costa Rica and Apr–Sept in Panama; nest under construction in Feb in... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Variably uncommon and local in drier regions to common in some humid regions, especially N & W of Andes. Widespread across much of Amazonia, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2019). Grey-headed Tanager (Eucometis penicillata). 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 10 December 2019).