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Any of hundreds of species (family Thraupidae) of New World songbirds inhabiting forests and gardens. Most species are 4–8 in. (10–20 cm) long and have a short neck. Bills vary in shape, but all are slightly toothed and hooked. Tanagers have brilliant plumage in reds, yellows, greens, blues, and black, sometimes strikingly patterned. Most species are arboreal; most eat fruit, and some eat insects. The scarlet, summer, and western tanagers breed in temperate North America. The hepatic tanager breeds from Arizona to central Argentina. Most other species are chiefly tropical.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on tanager, visit Britannica.com.