Tanagers are mostly restricted to the New World tropics. About 60% of tanagers live in South America, and about 30% of these live in the Andes. Only five species migrate to North America; of these the Scarlet Tanager has the widest range in the United States.
Only 18 species live in Central America and North America (not to include Alaska and Northern Canada) year round. Only 4 species are migratory, breeding in North America.
Tanagers are small-bodied birds that are best known for their bright-colored plumages. However, it is mostly the males that have a brilliant plumage that range in color from red, orange, yellow, blue and green. The wings are generally short and rounded. The females are olive green above and yellow below.