Blue-grey Tanager

(Thraupis episcopus)
Allow us to introduce the beautiful Bluegrey Tanager. As gorgeous as a greyish blue sky, our “Blue Jean” roams many a garden throughout Trinidad and Tobago. Common but by no means ordinary, the Bluegrey Tanager is a species that can be found from Mexico to Northern Brazil. It can be likened to a chatty, sociable neighbour; always nearby providing daily entertainment. The Bluegrey Tanager normally vocalises about 10 highpitched notes in succession along with the occasional solitary “peep.” One can hear it singing while it feeds on its meals of trees, shrubs, vegetables or fruits. I can attest to the latter, as my dear garden friends the Blue Jeans normally sample my mangoes and soursops before I do! The Bluegrey Tanager can also be found drinking the juicy nectar of flowering trees, particularly the Poui. Make no mistake; this bird can also be called a predator as it forages for a variety of insects. You may have wondered why the Bluegrey Tanagers in Tobago seem brighter. Well, wonder no more. This is due to the fact that separate subspecies exist in Trinidad and Tobago. The birds found in Tobago, of the subspecies Thraupis episcopus berlepschi, are brighter in colour with a darker blue rump and shoulder patch. For those who are curious about the name of the subspecies found in Trinidad, it is Thraupis episcopus sesophila. Bluegrey Tanagers breed mainly from the period of April to June. During breeding season, both sexes work together to construct a nest after which solely the female incubates. Moulting takes place from May to August. Spotting of this Tanager among concrete buildings is such a pleasant sight to behold. However, the lovely Bluegrey Tanager is also a permanent resident at the Asa Wright Nature Centre. Your spot on the verandah awaits you!

–J.L. Ryan

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