The tanagers and their allies are remarkable varied in tern of coloration, habitat preference, and behavior. Thraupidae are the second-largest family of birds and represent about 4% of all avian species and 12% of the Neotropical birds.
Many species are brightly colored or even gaudy. This New World family reaches its greatest diversity in Central America and Northern South America. Tanagers are restricted to the Western Hemisphere and mainly to the tropics. About 60% of tanagers live in South America, and 30% of these species live in the Andes. Most species are endemic to a relatively small area. There is a wide variation in morphology, especially in bill structure and tail lenght. Ant tanagers are relativily bulky with strong legs and feet; mountain tanagers have a large body and a fairly long tail, Magpie tanager has a very long tail. At the other end of the scale, conbills, honeycreepers and dacnis are small and delicate.
Some of the species are solitary or live only in pairs, other specias are highly gregarous, regularly join mixed flocks. Tanagers are omnivorous, and their diets vary by genus. They have been seen eating fruits, seeds, nectar, flower parts, and insects. Many pick insects off branches or from holes in the wood. Other species look for insects on the undersides of leaves. Yet others wait on branches until they see a flying insect and catch it in the air.
Many of these particular species inhabit the same areas, but these specializations alleviate competition.