Photo by David Tipling
The Silver-throated Tanager is a cheery, medium-sized tanager common in the foothills and highlands of southern Central America and northwestern South America. The adult male is bright yellow overall, with black streaking on its back, green edging on wings and tail, and a distinctive silvery-white throat bordered by a black malar stripe. Females and young males duller in plumage but similar overall. There are three subspecies of Silver-throated Tanager, varying in degrees of brightness of the plumage, and all three subspecies can be found in Panama.
Silver-throated Tanagers are found in the foothills and highlands of Costa Rica, Panama and into western Colombia and Ecuador, from 600 meters to up to 2250 meters in some parts of its range. They prefer mature secondary growth forest, montane forest and cloud forest. They are common throughout their range. They forage in the forest canopy, either individually, in pairs or in small groups with up to 12 individuals, and often associates with mixed feeding flocks. They eat small fruits, which they prefer to eat whole, as well as insects and spiders. They increase the amount of arthropods consumed in their diet during the breeding season. They forage along mossy branches, picking up insects as they go. They are very active birds, moving rapidly through the flock. Their call is a sharp, buzzy zzeet. Silver-throated Tanagers are non-territorial.
Breeding starts at the onset of the rainy season and lasts for several months. During this time, Silver-throated Tanagers raise two broods. The female primarily builds the nest, a compact cup placed on a branch in a tree 1 to 13 meters above the ground. The nest is composed of mosses and leaves held together by spider webs. The male may participate by bringing nesting material as well as food for the female. The female lays 2 eggs; the eggs are incubated by the female. Eggs are off-white with heavy brown blotching, concentrated at the larger end. Once the eggs hatch, both parents feed the nestlings. Young disperse within 15 days after fledging and are able to take care of themselves at this time.
The Silver-throated Tanager can be seen commonly around the Canopy Lodge in Panama’s western foothills, as well as at Cerro Azul and Cerro Jefe in the foothills east of Panama City, a great birding destination that can be visited from the Canopy Tower.