tanager tăn´əjər [key], any of the small, migratory perching birds of the family Thraupidae, chiefly of the tropical New World. Only five species migrate to North America; of these the scarlet tanager (Piranga olivacea) has the widest range in the United States. It is about 7 in. (18 cm) long. As in most tanagers, only the male has brilliant plumage; it is scarlet with black wings, tail, and beak. The song of the scarlet tanager is less melodious than that of the rosy-red summer tanager (P. rubra) of the South. The male western, or Louisiana, tanager (P. ludoviciana) is yellow, black, and red. Females of these species are olive green above and yellow below. Darwin's finches, originally classified as finches, are in fact members of the tanager family. Tanagers are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, family Thraupidae.

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