Hepatic Tanager

Here in southeastern Arizona, Hepatic Tanagers (Piranga flava) are common summer residents in oak-pine woodlands and riparian canyons in the mountains. Hepatic Tanagers will usually arrive here in early April and depart south for the winter sometime in October.

Male Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava)

Hepatic Tanagers can usually be found in the treetops, where they spend much of their time singing and hunting for insects amongst the leaves, but like other tanagers, they do have a fondness for fruit and will visit jelly and fruit feeders. I observed this male Hepatic Tanager at a grape jelly feeder in front of Madera Kubo B & B in Madera Canyon, Arizona in May of 2007.

Male Hepatic Tanager (Piranga flava) at a grape jelly feeder

Hepatic means involving or resembling the liver, and Hepatic Tanagers are named for the coloration of the males which is known as liver-red. Male Hepatic Tanagers are brick red to orange-red in color with duller, darker wings, a blackish bill, a wash of gray on the flanks, and a distinctive grayish cheek patch. Male Summer Tanagers (Piranga rubra), which are also found here, look very similar but are a brighter red color, have a light yellowish bill, and don't have grayish flanks or cheeks like a male Hepatic Tanager. Female Hepatic Tanagers are yellowish below and olive green above and have a blackish bill.