Piranga Bidentata – Flame-Colored Tanager

It was formerly known as the stripe-backed tanager. The Piranga bidentata or flame-colored tanager is a medium-sized American songbird that belongs to the Cardinalidae family, also known as the cardinals or cardinal grosbeaks. It can be found from Mexico through Central America and northern Panama, as well as on occasion in the United States; four subspecies have been identified so far.

Quick Overview: Piranga Bidentata – Flame-Colored Tanager
Body size: Around 7.25 in (18cm) in length and weighted about 34 g (1.2 oz)
Main colors: Orange, Black, White, Green, Yellow, Gray
Range: Mexico through South United States, Central America and Northern Panama
Migratory Bird: No
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: All year (January – December)
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Flame-colored tanager Description

Flame reddish-orange body, black wings with white wing bars and spots, and a black-streaked back distinguish this tropical tanager. The ear patch is pale gray in color with a black border around it. The female is olive-green on top and olive-yellow on the bottom, with black wings. The bill is gray, and the legs and feet are black. The flight is quick and direct.

Piranga Bidentata - Flame-Colored Tanager
Fantastic Piranga Bidentata – Flame-Colored Tanager. Photo by: Alessandro Chiezzi


This known tropical tanager is 7.25 in (18cm) in length and weighed about 34 g (1.2 oz). Their wingspan could range up to 11-12 in (28-30 cm).


Anthropods, berries, and a variety of other foods comprise the diet of the flame-colored tanager. It forages alone or in pairs most of the time, but it will occasionally join mixed-species foraging flocks. Despite the fact that it usually hunts through the tops of trees, it also sallies out for flying insects and occasionally descends to the ground’s surface to glean fruit.


Its preferred habitats include humid coniferous, oak, and pine-oak forests in mountains, as well as moist coniferous and oak woodlands.


Forages in trees at all levels, from the middle to the top; scavenges for insects on branches and foliage. Flame-colored tanager’s song is a series of vireo-like phrases, “chick-churee-chuwee,” that is repeated over and over. The call is difficult, and the dice rolled “pr-reck.”

Piranga bidentata Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Cardinalidae
  • Genus: Piranga
  • Species: Piranga bidentata


The subspecies of flame-colored tanager are found thus: P. b. bidentata, principally from western Mexico’s Sonora and Chihuahua states south to Guerrero and east to near Mexico City. It occasionally reaches southern Arizona and less frequently western Texas. P. b. flammea, Mexico’s Nayarit state and Islas Marías P. b. sanguinolenta, from eastern Mexico’s Nuevo Leon and Tamaulipas states south through Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador into north central Nicaragua P. b. citrea, Costa Rica and western Panama.

Best time of the year to see

If there aIn the United States, the best time of year to see these birds is all year round, regardless of the season. This refers to any month of the year between January and December.

Distribution of the Flame-colored tanager in the USA

This species is a resident of Mexico and makes visits to the mountains of southwest Texas on occasion. Some individuals breed further north in Mexico and into the mountains of southeastern Arizona, while others breed further south in the United States that includes Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.

Piranga Bidentata – Flame-Colored Tanager

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