Family New World Blackbirds (Icteridae)

Least Concern

Velvet-fronted Grackle (Lampropsar tanagrinus)


French: Carouge velouté German: Samtstirnstärling Spanish: Chango terciopelo

Icterus tanagrinus


, 1824,

Itacoatiara, north-east Amazonas, Brazil


Some races, especially boliviensis, may merit full species status, based on biometric and other morphological differences and, in the case of violaceus, possibly vocal divergence#R. The name Tachyphonus valeryi “Black-shouldered Tanager” is a synonym of L. t. tanagrinus. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • L. t. guianensis Cabanis, 1849 – #R#RVenezuela (Sucre and NE Monagas S to NE Bolívar; NW Amazonas) and NW Guyana, NE Colombia (NE Vichada and NE Guainía), and extreme N Brazil (Roraima).
  • L. t. tanagrinus (Spix, 1824) – Velvet-fronted Grackle – Amazon Basin in E Ecuador, S Colombia (mainly Amazonas), NE Peru (Loreto and Ucayali) and W Brazil (Amazonas E to lower R Negro and R Madeira).
  • L. t. macropterus Gyldenstolpe, 1945 – W Brazil (upper R Juruá in Acre and W Amazonas).
  • L. t. violaceus Hellmayr, 1906 – Violaceus Grackle – WC Brazil (NW Mato Grosso).
  • L. t. boliviensis Gyldenstolpe, 1941 – Bolivian Grackle – E Bolivia (Beni and Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    Male average 20·3 cm, 59·4 g; female average 19 cm, 55·2 g. All-dark icterid with short, conical bill and rather long and fan-shaped tail; feathers on... read more


    Rather vocal. Songs in Venezuela (nominate race) pleasant, but with slight glassy tone. Song... read more


    Usually near water (rivers, channels, oxbow lakes, marshes) in primary forest and secondary forest... read more

    Food and feeding

    Few data on diet; stomach contents beetles (Coleoptera) and alate ants (Formicidae). Forages in lower and middle levels of vegetation, also... read more


    Season Mar in Guyana, Sept in Ecuador, and Oct and Feb in Bolivia. Seems to be a co-operative breeder, but scant available information. A... read more


    Apparently resident.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rather uncommon to fairly common and locally common. Tolerates moderate habitat modification.

    Recommended citation

    Fraga, R. (2019). Velvet-fronted Grackle (Lampropsar tanagrinus). 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 7 December 2019).