Inti Tangara: New colorful bird species discovered in South America


Bird watchers have discovered a new genus and species of tanager in the lower slopes of the Andes in southeastern Peru and western Bolivia.

Tangara Inti (Heliothraupis oneilli). Image Credit: Louisiana State University / Lane et al., doi: 10.1093 / ornithology / ukab059.

Tangaras are a large family, the Thraupidae, of over 370 species of songbirds almost entirely confined to the American tropics.

It is the second largest family of birds and accounts for about 4% of all avian species and 12% of neotropical birds.

These fruit-eating birds exhibit a wide range of colors and plumage patterns, foraging behaviors, vocalizations, ecotypes, and habitat preferences.

Thraupidae includes some of the most colorful birds in the world, such as the Paradise Tanager (Chilean Tanager) – as well as duller birds.

The newly discovered species, named the Tangara Inti (Heliothraupis oneilli), inhabits the Yunga bioregion in Bolivia and Peru.

“The name Inti is Quechua – a language indigenous to the region – a word meaning ‘Sun’, referring to the bird’s bright yellow color,” said first author, Dr. Daniel Lane of the Science Museum. Natural Resources from Louisiana State University. and colleagues.

Unlike most of the newer bird species discovered recently, which usually differ only subtly from their closest relatives, the Inti Tanager is so different in appearance and genetics that birders have also described a new genus just for it.

“The species was first recorded in southeastern Peru in 2000, but little of its natural history was discovered until the discovery in 2011 of a breeding population in a deciduous forest in a valley. intermountain, Machariapo Valley, Bolivia, ”they said.

The seasonality of this new species at the breeding site in Bolivia led the team to conclude that it is an intratropical migrant, which means that it migrates from one habitat to another without leaving the tropics.

“It’s rare in passerines,” said co-author Dr Ryan Terrill, postdoctoral researcher at the Moore Laboratory of Zoology at Occidental College.

“The Inti Tanager is thought to breed in the hardwood forest of the Bolivian site strictly during the rainy season, which runs from November to March, and spends the dry season scattered along the lower slopes of the Andes as far away. to the west than Manu in Peru, the original site of discovery, occupying habitats dominated by bamboo.

Male Inti Tangaras are canary yellow birds with a contrasting black band on the head. They also have a salmon-pink bill and a bushy crest.

Females are predominantly yellow with bright orange or pink on the bill, but lack the black supercilium and crest.

“The fact that this unique bright yellow bird may have gone unnoticed by bird watchers until recently attests to the remoteness of the areas where it lives and the importance of continuing off-grid biological surveys in South America,” concluded Researchers.

The discovery of the Tangara Inti is reported in an article published in the journal Ornithology.


Daniel F. Lane et al. A new genus and a new species of tanager (Passeriformes, Thraupidae) from the lower Yungas of western Bolivia and southern Peru. Ornithology, published online October 29, 2021; doi: 10.1093 / ornithology / ukab059


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