The Blue-gray Tanager (Thraupis episcopus) is a small, tropical bird that is widespread and commonly found in Costa Rica, as well as throughout Central and South America. Here are some details regarding this species:
Appearance: As their name suggests, Blue-gray Tanagers have predominantly blue-gray plumage. However, shades can vary significantly depending on their location, ranging from a pale gray to a richer bluish tint. They typically have lighter underparts and may show some greenish tones on the wings and tail. Juveniles are often duller in color compared to adults.
Size: These birds are relatively small, about 16-18 cm (6.3-7.1 inches) in length and weighing approximately 30-40 grams.
Habitat: Blue-gray Tanagers are versatile in habitat preference and can adapt to a range of environments, from humid forests to open country, including gardens and urban areas. They are most commonly seen in semi-open areas where trees are present, and they are relatively easy to observe in fruiting trees and at bird feeders.
Diet: Their diet is quite varied and includes fruits, nectar, and insects. Because of their fondness for fruit, they can play an important role as seed dispersers in their ecosystem.
Behavior: These birds are not particularly shy and often travel in pairs or small groups. They can frequently be seen moving about in the foliage in search of food or calling with a persistent and sharp "tsip" or a softer "tseet".
Reproduction: Blue-gray Tanagers build cup-shaped nests out of plant materials, where the female typically lays 2-3 pale blue eggs with brown spots. Both parents share the responsibility for incubation, which lasts about 14 days. They also both feed the nestlings until they are ready to fledge.
Conservation Status: The Blue-gray Tanager is listed as "Least Concern" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), partly due to its wide distribution and adaptability to different habitats, including those altered by humans.
In Costa Rica, the Blue-gray Tanager is one of the most easily recognized and commonly encountered tanagers, thanks to its comfort in suburban and lightly forested areas. Birdwatchers in the country often delight in the sight of this species, especially given its pleasant demeanor and the ease of observation. Its presence in various environments from the lowlands up to middle elevations ensures that it is a staple of the Costa Rican birdlife. Their adaptability has allowed them not only to survive but to thrive in a wide range of conditions, making them a fascinating subject of study for ornithologists and nature enthusiasts alike. The continued health of their populations is indicative of the rich biodiversity found within Central American ecosystems and the success of conservation efforts in this particular region.