Blue-gray Tanagers

Blue-gray Tanagers (Thraupis episcopus) are very common in suburban areas, second growth forests, forest edges, and other open areas with trees throughout much of Costa Rica from the lowlands to near 7000 feet (2134 m) or more in the highlands. Blue-gray Tanagers are mainly found from central Mexico to the northern parts of Bolivia and Brazil in South America. I observed this Blue-gray Tanager below and numerous others in a garden in Alajuela, Costa Rica.

Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus)

Blue-gray Tanagers are a pale blue-gray color with a darker blue-gray back, bright sky blue wings and tail, a blackish bill, and large, black eyes. The sexes are similar, but the females and especially the young are grayer. When seen in natural daylight, Blue-gray Tanagers appear a cool blue-gray and sky blue color, but when illuminated with the camera's flash, they beautifully transform into a shimmering blue-green or aqua color.

Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) singing

This Blue-gray Tanager was singing in the misty rain in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Blue-gray Tanagers are quite vocal and social, and the pairs or groups are easy to locate by sound with all of their noisy singing and chattering, but their songs are a squeaky jumble and not very melodious.

Blue-gray Tanagers feed on insects, spiders, and fruit. While in San Gerardo de Dota, Costa Rica, I observed them happily eating ripe apples with many other birds in an apple orchard. Also while there, I photographed a Blue-gray Tanager hunting for spiders amongst a tangle of wires, giving me probably my ugliest bird photo yet (setting-wise at least).

Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) in a tangle of wires

While I was not surprised to see numerous Blue-gray Tanagers in middle elevation Alajuela, I was surprised to see them in San Gerardo de Dota because at just above 7000 feet (2134 m) in elevation, San Gerardo de Dota is around their upper elevation limit. The fruit orchards and abundant berry bushes there are likely what attracted the Blue-gray Tanagers and the many other fruit-loving birds I saw there.