The Santa Marta Mountain Tanager (Anisognathus melanogenys), also known as the Black-Cheeked Mountain Tanager, is a species of bird in the family Thraupidae. It is endemic to highland forest in the Santa Marta Mountains in Colombia. It is closely related to the widespread lacrimose mountain tanager, but the distributions of the two do not overlap.

Also known as the Santa Marta Mountain-Tanager (e.g., Hilty 2011), on account of it being endemic to this north Colombian mountain range, this species was formerly regarded as a subspecies of the Lacrimose Mountain-Tanager (Anisognathus lacrymosus). It clearly differs from any other member of the latter species in the broad black cheek patch, while the upperparts and crown are blue, there is a small yellow ‘teardrop’ immediately below the eye, and virtually the entire underparts are yellow to orange-yellow. The Black-cheeked Mountain-Tanager is principally found at elevations between 1600 and 3200 m, and at least some birds apparently move to lower altitudes during the wet season. Like other mountain-tanagers it usually travels in small groups, and often consorts with mixed-species foraging flocks. The generic name Ansiognathus derives from the Greek words anisos which means unequal, and gnathus which means lower jaw, in reference to the characteristic overbite in this genus. The specific epithet melanogenys is derived from the Greek words melas meaning dark or black, and genus, which refers to cheek. In Spanish the common name for this species is the Tangara de Santa Marta (Hilty 2011, de Juana et al. 2012).


18 cm; 41 g (1 male). Strong-billed tanager with mainly blue-and-yellow plumage. Has crown and nape shining blue, lores, side of head and neck black (not sharply set off from adjacent grey-blue on side of neck), small yellow spot immediately below eye; upperparts dull dark grey-blue, tail dusky, tinged and edged dark blue; lesser and median upperwing-coverts dull dusky blue, greater coverts dusky, obscurely edged and tipped greenish-blue, flight-feathers and tertials dusky, obscurely edged greenish-blue; throat and entire underparts to undertail-coverts golden-yellow, usually with small amount of black mottling visible on sides and flanks; thigh black; iris dark reddish-brown; bill and legs blackish. Differs from similar A. lacrymosus in having crown blue and underparts bright yellow. Sexes similar. Juvenile apparently undescribed.

Systematics History

Close to A. lacrymosus, and in the past treated as conspecific with it. Monotypic.


 it is a Monotypic species


Santa Marta mountains, in North of Colombia.


Mossy wet-forest borders, second-growth woodland, and regenerating second growth in pastures; less numerous inside wet montane forest. Found over wider range of habitats than is A. lacrymosus. At 1500–3200 m, seasonally as low as 1200 m.


Part of population may shift to lower elevation during peak of rainy season, from January through September

Diet and Foraging

Known to take a variety of small fruits, and probably also some insects; no other details of diet available. Occurs in pairs and in varyingly sized groups of up to about six individuals, often at fruiting trees and shrubs; often joins mixed-species flocks. Forages from eye level up to canopy, but most foraging in subcanopy or below. Generally conspicuous; runs and hops along mossy branches and into foliage.


Ten breeding-condition birds in Jan–Jun and Sept; one individual seen while building open cup-nest 14 m up in tree. No other information.

Conservation Status

Not globally threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Santa Marta Mountains EBA. Common within its very small global range. Entire population of this species is limited to montane regions in Santa Marta Mts of N Colombia. Deforestation widespread in much of its range, even within Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta National Park, where it occurs. Readily utilizes various types of second growth and edge habitat, however, and is therefore buffered to some extent from forest losses. Numbers may have declined because of deforestation and human settlement, but at present this species unlikely to face serious risk.


Calls very high-pitched, thin “tic” and “ti” and “ee” notes, sometimes accelerating into trills or rapid bursts of notes.