4 languages
Coereba flaveola
Life Span
7 years

The bananaquit (Coereba flaveola ) is a species of passerine bird in the tanager family Thraupidae. Before the development of molecular genetics in the 21st century, its relationship to other species was uncertain and it was either placed with the buntings and New World sparrows in the family Emberizidae, with New World warblers in the family Parulidae or in its own monotypic family Coerebidae. This small, active nectarivore is found in warmer parts of the Americas, and is generally common.


The bananaquit is a small bird, although there is some degree of size variation across the various subspecies. Length can range from 4 to 5 in (10 to 13 cm). Weight ranges from 5.5 to 19 g (0.19 to 0.67 oz).

Show More

Most subspecies of the bananaquit have dark grey (almost black) upperparts, black crown and sides of the head, a prominent white eyestripe, grey throat, white vent, and yellow chest, belly and rump. Coloration is heavily influenced by melanocortin 1 receptor variation.

The sexes are alike, but juveniles are duller and often have a partially yellow eyebrow and throat.

In the subspecies bahamensis and caboti from the Bahamas and Cozumel, respectively, the throat and upper chest are white or very pale grey, while ferryi from La Tortuga Island has a white forehead. The subspecies laurae, lowii and melanornis from small islands off northern Venezuela are overall blackish, while the subspecies aterrima and atrata from Grenada and Saint Vincent have two plumage morphs, one "normal" and another blackish. The pink gape is usually very prominent in the subspecies from islands in the Caribbean Sea.

The tongue is paddle-shaped, with an extremely long paddle section.

Show Less
Bananaquit habitat map
Attribution-ShareAlike License

Habits and Lifestyle

The bananaquit has a slender, curved bill, adapted to taking nectar from flowers, including mistletoes. Nectivory is probably an independent innovation in Coereba. Since then C. flaveola 's tongue shape has shown convergent evolution with other birds feeding on the same flowers, and its source flowers have shown convergence to accommodate its tongue. It sometimes pierces flowers from the side, taking the nectar without pollinating the plant - known as nectar robbing. It also feeds on fruits - including mistletoe fruits and ripe bananas. It has been observed taking fruits' sweet juices by puncturing fruit with its beak, and will eat small insects and other small arthropods on occasion. While feeding, the bananaquit must always perch as it cannot hover like a hummingbird.

Show More

The bananaquit is known for its ability to adjust remarkably to human environments. It often visits gardens and may become very tame. Its nickname, the sugar bird, comes from its affinity for bowls or bird feeders stocked with granular sugar, a common method of attracting these birds. The bananaquit builds a spherical lined nest with a side entrance hole, laying up to three eggs, which are incubated solely by the female. It may also build its nest in human-made objects, such as lampshades and garden trellises. The birds breed all year regardless of season and build new nests throughout the year.

Show Less
Seasonal behavior
Bird's call

Diet and Nutrition



1. Bananaquit Wikipedia article -
2. Bananaquit on The IUCN Red List site -
3. Xeno-canto bird call -

More Fascinating Animals to Learn About