Stripe-Headed Tanager

Photo of the Stripe-headed Tanager/Reina Mora

Puerto Rico Spindalis; Stripe-headed Tanager (Eng.), Reina Mora (Sp.), Spindalis portoricensis (Sci.), endemic, Puerto Rico.

Photo Lic. Alfredo D. Colón Archilla. Information compiled by Alan Mowbray, Interpretive Media Writer, EYNF/LEF

General Information

Class-Aves, Order-Passeriformes, Family-Thraupidae, Genus-Spindalis. Species-portoricensis. The Puerto Rico Spindalis is the “official” bird of the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.


The Puerto Rico Spindalis species exhibits sexual dimorphism; males are brightly colored while females are dully colored. Males are green above with an orange neck and breast. They have a black head with two white stripes, one above and one below the eyes. The tail and wings are gray to black with small white stripes at the tips. Females are dull olive-green with almost invisible white stripes. Males weight ranges from 0.8 to 1.3 ounces (22.5 to 37 grams) while females weigh from 0.9 to 1.4 ounces (28 to 41 grams). Average length (beak to tail) is 6.4 inches (16.5 centimeters).


Puerto Rican Spindalis are usually found in pairs but may travel in small flocks. These birds occasionally engage in a behavior called “mobbing,” when a flock of birds attack a known predator, usually to defend their eggs or hatchlings. Such behavior has been observed to be directed against E. inornatus, the Puerto Rican Boa. The most common vocalization is described as a "continuing series of high-pitched, thin, sibilant notes, given in a rhythmic pattern." Other vocalizations include a fast "tweet" and a short "chi chi chi”. (Click here for recording) Spindalis portoricensis is primarily a frugivore, typically eating fruits from Schefflera morototoni, (Yagrumo macho) and Cecropia shreberiana (pumpwood) trees. These birds may also include insects and small lizards as part of their diet. Spindalis portoricensis builds cup-shaped nests from various plant matter. Two to four eggs are laid at a time. Eggs are usually light blue in color with brown patches around the large end.


The Puerto Rican Spindalis is commonly found in plantations and in the forests of Maricao and El Yunque. It is distributed throughout the main island of Puerto Rico and is rarely found above 3.280 feet (1000 meters) in elevation.

Where to look for this animal in the EYNF

Near nature trails at elevations below 3,000 feet.