Last updated

Tityra semifasciata -Brazil-8.jpg
Masked tityra (Tityra semifasciata)
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Clade: Dinosauria
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tityridae
Subfamily: Tityrinae
Genus: Tityra
Vieillot, 1816
Type species
Lanius cayanus
Linnaeus, 1766

3-4, see text

Synonyms [1]
  • Exetastes
  • Exetastus
  • Pachyrynchus
  • Psaris

The tityras are passerine birds in the genus Tityra of the family Tityridae. They are found from southern Mexico, through Central America, to northern and central South America, including Trinidad.


These are medium-sized birds, typically around 20–25 centimetres (7.9–9.8 in) long, with large bills. The adult males are greyish-white above and white below, except for the wings and tail which are at least partially black. The males of all three species also have black head markings. The females are similar, but are duller, with browner or greyer head markings. The black-tailed and the masked tityra both have a conspicuous red eye-ring and base of the bill.


The genus Tityra was introduced by French ornithologist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1816, with the black-tailed tityra named as the type species. [2] The genus name comes from "Tityri" – the name given by the Ancient Greeks to the satyrs and other mythological companions of Pan and Bacchus. This is a reference to the boisterous, aggressive behavior of the type species. [3]

The tityras have traditionally been placed in the cotinga or the tyrant flycatcher family, but evidence strongly suggests they are better placed in Tityridae, where now placed by South American Classification Committee. [4] The black-crowned tityra is sometimes placed in a separate genus, Erator. [5]

The genus contains three species. [6]


These species are found in forest clearings and edges, second growth and other semi-open habitats such as plantation shade trees. The eggs are laid in a bed of dry leaves in a tree hole, often an old woodpecker nest. The female incubates alone, but both parents feed the chicks. Fledging takes up to 25 days.

Tityras are seen alone or in pairs, perched conspicuously as they feed on medium-sized fruits, large insects and sometimes small lizards. They have unmusical nasal grunting or buzzing calls.

ImageScientific nameCommon NameDistribution
Black-tailed Tityra.jpg Tityra cayana Black-tailed tityra Bolivia, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil
Masked Tityra.jpg Tityra semifasciata Masked tityra Mexico, through Central America, to northwestern and central South America (as far south as Paraguay).
Black-crowned tityra.jpg Tityra inquisitor Black-crowned tityra Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

Another species, the white-tailed tityra (Tityra leucura), is generally considered a variant of the black-crowned tityra, but recent evidence suggests it may be a valid species restricted to the Brazilian Amazon near the Madeira River. [7]

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wheatear</span> Genus of birds

The wheatears are passerine birds of the genus Oenanthe. They were formerly considered to be members of the thrush family, Turdidae, but are now more commonly placed in the flycatcher family, Muscicapidae. This is an Old World group, but the northern wheatear has established a foothold in eastern Canada and Greenland and in western Canada and Alaska.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black wheatear</span> Species of bird

The black wheatear is a wheatear, a small passerine bird in the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae. It is found in southern Spain and western North Africa.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White-lined tanager</span> Species of bird

The white-lined tanager is a medium-sized passerine bird in the tanager family Thraupidae. It is a resident breeder from Costa Rica south to northern Argentina and on the islands of Trinidad and Tobago.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Savanna hawk</span> Species of bird

The savanna hawk is a large raptor found in open savanna and swamp edges. It was formerly placed in the genus Heterospizias. It breeds from Panama and Trinidad south to Bolivia, Uruguay and central Argentina.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Gray-lined hawk</span> Species of bird

The gray-lined hawk is a smallish raptor found in open country and forest edges. It is sometimes placed in the genus Asturina as Asturina nitida. The species has been split by the American Ornithological Society from the gray hawk. The gray-lined hawk is found from El Salvador to Argentina, as well as on the Caribbean island of Trinidad.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Black-tailed tityra</span> Species of bird

The black-tailed tityra is a medium-sized passerine bird of tropical South America. The tityras have been placed in the cotinga or the tyrant flycatcher families by various authors. But the weight of evidence strongly suggest they and their closest relatives are better separated as Tityridae; the AOU for example advocates this separation.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Double-striped thick-knee</span> Species of bird

The double-striped thick-knee is a stone-curlew, a group of waders in the family Burhinidae. The vernacular name refers to the prominent joints in the long greenish-grey legs, and bistriatus to the two stripes of the head pattern.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hermit (hummingbird)</span> Subfamily of birds

The hermits are tropical and subtropical hummingbirds in the subfamily Phaethornithinae, comprising 37 species in six genera. They occur from southern Mexico, through Central America, to South America as far south as northern Argentina.

<i>Phaethornis</i> Genus of birds

Phaethornis is a genus of hummingbirds in the hermit subfamily, Phaethornithinae. They occur from southern Mexico, through Central America, to South America as far south as northern Argentina.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue-and-white swallow</span> Species of bird

The blue-and-white swallow is a passerine bird that breeds from Nicaragua south throughout South America, except in the deserts and the Amazon Basin. The southern race is migratory, wintering as far north as Trinidad, where it is a regular visitor. The nominate northern race may have bred on that island.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Magpie tanager</span> Species of bird

The magpie tanager is a South American species of tanager. It is the only member of the monotypic genus Cissopis. As suggested by its common name, this blue-black and white species is superficially reminiscent of a European magpie. With a total length of 25–30 cm (9.8–11.8 in), a large percentage of which is tail, it is the longest species of tanager. It weighs 69–76 g (2.4–2.7 oz).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Blue ground dove</span> Species of bird

The blue ground dove is a small New World tropical dove. It is a resident breeder from southeastern Mexico to northwestern Peru and northern Argentina, and on Trinidad in the Caribbean.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cinnamon becard</span> Species of bird

The cinnamon becard is a passerine bird found in Latin America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White-crowned manakin</span> Species of bird

The white-crowned manakin is a small passerine bird in the manakin family Pipridae. This common and extremely widespread manakin is one of the most easily identified, even in female plumage. It is a resident breeder in the tropical New World from Costa Rica to northeastern Peru and eastern Brazil. It was traditionally placed in the genus Pipra, but is now placed in its own monotypic genus Pseudopipra. It is a small, compact bird about 10 cm (3.9 in) long. Males have black plumage with a white crown which can be erected as a crest, the only member of the Pipridae to possess both an all-black body and a gleaming white crown. Females and juveniles are olive-green, with a grey head and throat, and greyish-green or olive underparts. At breeding time, males are involved in a lekking behaviour. This is a fairly common species with a wide range, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has rated its conservation status as being of "least concern".

<i>Manacus</i> Genus of birds

Manacus is a genus of passerine birds in the manakin family which are found in the forests of tropical mainland Central and South America, and on Trinidad and Tobago.

<i>Piaya</i> Genus of birds

Piaya is a small genus of relatively large and long-tailed cuckoos, which occur in Mexico, Central America and South America. The two species in taxonomic order are:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Becard</span> Genus of birds

A becard is a bird of the genus Pachyramphus in the family Tityridae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Masked tityra</span> Species of bird

The masked tityra is a medium-sized passerine bird. It has traditionally been placed in the cotinga or the tyrant flycatcher family, but evidence strongly suggests that it is better placed in Tityridae, where it is now placed by the South American Classification Committee.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White-naped xenopsaris</span> Species of bird in South America

The white-naped xenopsaris, also known as the reed becard and white-naped becard, is a species of suboscine bird in the family Tityridae, the only member of the genus Xenopsaris. It is found in South America, in humid subtropical and tropical savanna climates in most of the countries east of the Andes: Venezuela, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Argentina. Living in open woodland and other open forest habitats, it is mostly sedentary, though some populations may be migratory. The species, which is closely related to becards and tityras, was thought to be either a tyrant-flycatcher or cotinga, before it was placed in Tityridae.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wood quail</span> Genus of birds

The wood quails are birds in the genus Odontophorus of the New World quail family, which are residents in forests in the Americas. The core range of the genus is centered in the lowlands and foothills of the northern Andes of Colombia and the mountain ranges of Central America; however, some species occur elsewhere in tropical and subtropical South America.


  1. Jobling 2010, p. 155, 288, 319.
  2. Vieillot 1816, p. 39.
  3. Jobling 2010, p. 387.
  4. Prum, Rick (2007). "Proposal (313): Adopt the Family Tityridae". South American Classification Committee.
  5. Stiles & Skutch 1989.
  6. Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2018). "Cotingas, manakins, tityras, becards". World Bird List Version 8.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
  7. Whittaker, Andrew (2008). "Field evidence for the validity of White-tailed Tityra Tityra leucura Pelzeln, 1868". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 128: 107–113.