Tyrant flycatcher

Last updated

Tyrant flycatchers
Empidonax flavescens-cropped version.jpg
Yellowish flycatcher,
Empidonax flavescens
Scientific classification OOjs UI icon edit-ltr.svg
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Parvorder: Tyrannida
Family: Tyrannidae
Vigors, 1825
Type genus

Some 100, see text

Distribution of tyrant flycatchers

The tyrant flycatchers (Tyrannidae) are a family of passerine birds which occur throughout North and South America. [1] They are considered the largest family of birds known to exist in the world, with more than 400 species. They are the most diverse avian family in every country in the Americas, except for the United States and Canada. The members vary greatly in shape, patterns, size and colors. Some tyrant flycatchers may superficially resemble the Old World flycatchers, which they are named after but are not closely related to. They are members of suborder Tyranni (suboscines), which do not have the sophisticated vocal capabilities of most other songbirds. [2]


A number of species previously included in this family are now placed in the family Tityridae (see Systematics ). Sibley and Alquist in their 1990 bird taxonomy had the genera Mionectes, Leptopogon, Pseudotriccus, Poecilotriccus, Taenotriccus, Hemitriccus, Todirostrum and Corythopis as a separate family Pipromorphidae, [3] but although it is still thought that these genera are basal to most of the family, they are not each other's closest relatives. [3]


Most, but not all, species are rather plain, with various hues of brown, gray and white commonplace, often providing some degree of presumed camouflage. Obvious exceptions include the bright red vermilion flycatcher, blue, black, white and yellow many-colored rush-tyrant and some species of tody-flycatchers or tyrants, which are often yellow, black, white and/or rufous, from the Todirostrum , Hemitriccus and Poecilotriccus genera. Several species have bright yellow underparts, from the ornate flycatcher to the great kiskadee. Some species have erectile crests. Several of the large genera (i.e. Elaenia , Myiarchus or Empidonax ) are quite difficult to tell apart in the field due to similar plumage and some are best distinguished by their voices. Behaviorally they can vary from species such as spadebills which are tiny, shy and live in dense forest interiors to kingbirds, which are relatively large, bold, inquisitive and often inhabit open areas near human habitations. As the name implies, a great majority of tyrant flycatchers are almost entirely insectivorous (though not necessarily specialized in flies). Tyrant flycatchers are largely opportunistic feeders and often catch any flying or arboreal insect they encounter. However, food can vary greatly and some (like the large great kiskadee) will eat fruit or small vertebrates (e.g. small frogs). In North America, most species are associated with a "sallying" feeding style, where they fly up to catch an insect directly from their perch and then immediately return to the same perch. Most tropical species, however, do not feed in this fashion and several types prefer to glean insects from leaves and bark. Tropical species are sometimes found in mixed-species foraging flocks, where various types of passerines and other smallish birds are found feeding in proximity.

The smallest family members are the closely related short-tailed pygmy tyrant and black-capped pygmy tyrant from the genus Myiornis (the first species usually being considered marginally smaller on average). These species reach a total length of 6.5–7 cm (2.6–2.8 in) and a weight of 4 to 5 g (0.14 to 0.18 oz). By length, they are the smallest passerines on earth, although some species of Old World warblers apparently rival them in their minuscule mean body masses if not in total length. [4] The minuscule size and very short tail of the Myiornis pygmy tyrants often lend them a resemblance to a tiny ball or insect. The largest tyrant flycatcher is the great shrike-tyrant at 29 cm (11 in) and 99.2 grams (0.219 pounds). A few species such as the streamer-tailed tyrant, scissor-tailed flycatcher and fork-tailed flycatcher have a larger total length — up to 41 cm (16 in) in the fork-tailed flycatcher at least — but this is mainly due to their extremely long tails; the fork-tailed flycatcher has the longest tail feathers of any known bird relative to their size (this being in reference to true tail feathers, not to be confused with elongated tail streamers as seen in some from the Phasianidae family of galliforms). [5]

Habitat and distribution

Species richness of Tyrannidae, when compared to habitat, is highly variable, although most every land habitat in the Americas has at least some of these birds. The habitats of tropical lowland evergreen forest and montane evergreen forest have the highest single site species diversity while many habitats including rivers, palm forest, white sand forest, tropical deciduous forest edge, southern temperate forest, southern temperate forest edge, semi-humid/humid montane scrub, and northern temperate grassland have the lowest single species diversity. The variation between the highest and the lowest is extreme; ninety species can be found in the tropical lowland evergreen forests while the number of species that can be found in the habitats listed above typically are in the single digits. This may be due in part to the fewer niches found in certain areas and therefore fewer places for the species to occupy.

Tyrannidae specialization among habitats is very strong in tropical lowland evergreen forests and montane evergreen forests. These habitat types, therefore, display the greatest specialization. The counts differ by three species (tropical lowland evergreen forests have 49 endemic species and montane evergreen forests have 46 endemic species). It can be assumed that they both have similar levels of specialization.

Regionally, the Atlantic Forest has the highest species richness with the Chocó following closely behind.

Status and conservation

The northern beardless tyrannulet (Camptostoma imberbe) is protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. [6] This species is common south of the US border. The situation for a number of other species from South and Central America is far more problematic. In 2007, BirdLife International (and consequently IUCN) considered two species, the Minas Gerais tyrannulet and Kaempfer's tody-tyrant critically endangered. Both are endemic to Brazil. Additionally, seven species were considered endangered and eighteen species vulnerable. [7]


The family contains 447 species divided into 104 genera. [8] A full list, sortable by common and binomial names, is at list of tyrant flycatcher species. Species in the genera Tityra , Pachyramphus , Laniocera and Xenopsaris were formerly placed in this family, but evidence suggested they belong in their own family, the Tityridae, [9] where they are now placed by SACC.

Piprites pileata - Black-capped Piprites (Male) 01.JPG Piprites Cabanis, 1847
PIOLHINHO (Phyllomyias fasciatus).jpg Phyllomyias Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Tyrannulus elatus Tiranuelo coronado Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet (6515681957).jpg Tyrannulus Vieillot, 1816
Myiopagis cotta 1.jpg Myiopagis Salvin & Godman, 1888
Elaenia spectabilis-Large Elaenia.JPG Elaenia Sundevall, 1836
Brown-capped Tyrannulet (Ornithion brunneicapillus) (8079747729).jpg Ornithion Hartlaub, 1853
Camptostoma obsoletum obsoletum - Southern beardless tyrannulet.jpg Camptostoma P.L. Sclater, 1857
Suiriri suiriri - Suiriri flycatcher Argentina.jpg Suiriri d'Orbigny, 1840
Mecocerculus hellmayri - Buff-banded tyrannulet.jpg Mecocerculus P.L. Sclater, 1862
Tufted Tit-Tyrant.jpg Anairetes Reichenbach, 1850
Anairetes agilis.jpg Uromyias Hellmayr, 1927
Serpophaga subcristata -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg Serpophaga Gould, 1839
Phaeomyias murina1.jpg Nesotriccus Townsend, CH, 1895
Capsiempis flaveola -Costa Rica-8 (1).jpg Capsiempis Cabanis & Heine, 1859
  • Yellow tyrannulet, Capsiempis flaveola
Polystictus superciliaris - Grey-backed Tachuri.JPG Polystictus Reichenbach, 1850
Pseudocolopteryx dinelliana - Dinelli's doradito.jpg Pseudocolopteryx Lillo, 1905
Pseudotriccus ruficeps -NBII Image Gallery-a00198.jpg Pseudotriccus Taczanowski & Berlepsch, 1885
Corythopis delalandi -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg Corythopis Sundevall, 1836
Rufous-sided Pygmy-tyrant Euscarthmus rufomarginatus.jpg Euscarthmus Wied-Neuwied, 1831
Pseudelaenia leucospodia - Gray-and-white Tyrannulet (cropped).jpg Pseudelaenia W. Lanyon, 1988
Stigmatura budytoides - Greater wagtail tyrant.JPG Stigmatura Sclater & Salvin, 1866
Golden-faced Tyrannulet - Colombia S4E9917.jpg Zimmerius Traylor, 1977
Phylloscartes poecilotis (Atrapamoscas variegado) - Flickr - Alejandro Bayer (1).jpg Pogonotriccus Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Cinnamon-faced Tyrannulet - Manu NP - Peru 7710 (16666057107).jpg Phylloscartes Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Mionectes rufiventris.jpg Mionectes Cabanis, 1844
Leptopogon amaurocephalus -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg Leptopogon Cabanis, 1844
Suiriri islerorum - Chapada Flycatcher.JPG Guyramemua Lopes et al., 2017
Sublegatus modestus - Southern scrub flycatcher.JPG Sublegatus Sclater & Salvin, 1868
Inezia subflava - Amazonian inezia, Anavilhanas National Park, Novo Airao, Amazonas, Brazil.jpg Inezia Cherrie, 1909
Myiophobus fasciatus 54670465.jpg Myiophobus Reichenbach, 1850
Myiophobus pulcher (Atrapamoscas musguero) - Flickr - Alejandro Bayer.jpg Nephelomyias (Ohlson, Fjeldsa and Ericson, 2009)
Ornate Flycatcher - South Ecuador S4E0633.jpg Myiotriccus Ridgway, 1905
Tachuris rubrigastra - Many-coloured rush-tyrant.JPG Tachuris Lafresnaye, 1836
Culicivora caudacuta Sharp-tailed Tyrant.JPG Culicivora Swainson, 1827
Hemitriccus striaticollis - Stripe-necked Tody Tyrant; Arari; Maranhao, Brazil.jpg Hemitriccus Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Myiornis auricularis 1.jpg Myiornis Bertoni, A.W., 1901
Southern Bentbill.jpg Oncostoma P.L. Sclater, 1862
Lophotriccus galeatus - Helmeted Pygmy Tyrant, Presidente Figueiredo, Amazonas, Brazil 02.jpg Lophotriccus Berlepsch, 1884
Pale-eyed Pygmy-Tyrant.jpg Atalotriccus Ridgway, 1905
Poecilotriccus ruficeps (Tiranuelo capirrufo) (14450043293).jpg Poecilotriccus Berlepsch, 1884
Taeniotriccus andrei - Black-chested Tyrant (male), Parauapebas, Para, Brazil.jpg Taeniotriccus Berlepsch & Hartert, 1902
Todirostrum poliocephalum3.jpg Todirostrum – typical tody-flycatchers Lesson, 1831
Cnipodectes subbrunneus - Brownish twistwing, Careiro, Amazonas, Brazil.jpg Cnipodectes P.L. Sclater & Salvin, 1873
Rhynchocyclus fulvipectus - Fulvous-breasted Flatbill - 3.jpg Rhynchocyclus Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Tolmomyias flaviventris - Yellow-breasted Flycatcher.JPG Tolmomyias Hellmayr, 1927
Calyptura cristata.jpg Calyptura Swainson, 1832
Platyrinchus coronatus - Golden-crowned spadebill.jpg Platyrinchus Desmarest, 1805
Neopipo cinnamomea - Cinnamon neopipo.jpg Neopipo Sclater & Salvin, 1869
Cinnamon Flycatcher (Pyrrhomyias cinnamomeus).jpg Pyrrhomyias Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Gibao de couro.jpg Hirundinea Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837
Gray-breasted Flycatcher - South Ecuador S4E9465.jpg Lathrotriccus Lanyon,W & Lanyon,S, 1986
Aphanotriccus capitalis -near Rancho Naturalista, Cordillera de Talamanca, Costa Rica-8.jpg Aphanotriccus Ridgway, 1905
Cnemotriccus fuscatus - Fuscous Flycatcher; Bodoquena, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil.jpg Cnemotriccus Hellmayr, 1927
Pileated Flycatcher - Mexico S4E9492 (16251012834).jpg Xenotriccus Dwight & Griscom, 1927
Sayornis phoebe -Owen Conservation Park, Madison, Wisconsin, USA-8.jpg Sayornis – phoebes Bonaparte, 1854
Mitrephanes phaeocercus -Costa Rica-8a.jpg Mitrephanes Coues, 1882
Tropical Pewee - Rio Tigre - Costa Rica.jpg Contopus Cabanis, 1855
Black-capped Flycatcher - Central Highlands - Costa Rica MG 7063 (26603418092).jpg Empidonax Cabanis, 1855
Pyrocephalus rubinus Titiribi pechirrojo Vermilion Flycatcher (male) (17321352426).jpg Pyrocephalus Gould, 1839
Ochthornis littoralis - Drab Water-Tyrant.jpg Ochthornis P.L. Sclater, 1888
Satrapa icterophrys -Argentina-8.jpg Satrapa Strickland, 1844
LittleGround-Tyrant.jpg Syrtidicola Chesser et al, 2020
Spot-billed Ground-Tyrant.jpg Muscisaxicola – ground tyrants Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837
Andean Negrito (Lessonia oreas) on the ground, side view.jpg Lessonia Swainson, 1832
Hymenops perspicillatus Argentina.jpg Hymenops Lesson, 1828
Knipolegus cyanirostris -Reserva Guainumbi, Sao Luis do Paraitinga, Sao Paulo, Brasil-8.jpg Knipolegus F. Boie, 1826
Red-rumped-Bush-tyrant.jpg Cnemarchus Ridgway, 1905
White Monjita (Xolmis irupero)-8.jpg Xolmis F. Boie, 1826
Fire-eyed Diucon RWD.jpg Pyrope Cabanis & Heine, 1860
Xolmis cinereus -Fazenda Campo de Ouro, Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brasil-8.jpg Nengetus Swainson, 1827
Xolmis coronatus - Black-crowned Monjita; San Javier, Rio Negro, Uruguay.jpg Neoxolmis Hellmayr, 1927
Myiotheretes striaticollis Atrapamoscas chiflaperro Streak-throated Bush-Tyrant (13975951386).jpg Myiotheretes Reichenbach, 1850
Agriornis montanus - Black-billed shrike-tyrant.jpg Agriornis – shrike-tyrants Gould, 1839
Gubernetes yetapa -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brasil-8.jpg Gubernetes Such, 1825
Muscipipra vetula 1.jpeg Muscipipra Lesson, 1831
Black-backed Water-Tyrant - Brazil MG 8606 (16730865190).jpg Fluvicola Swainson, 1827
Arundinicola leucocephala -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil -male-8.jpg Arundinicola d'Orbigny, 1840
Heteroxolmis dominicana -Rocha, Uruguay -male-8.jpg Heteroxolmis Lanyon, W, 1986
Alectrurus risora - Strange-tailed tyrant (male) 03.jpg Alectrurus Vieillot, 1816
Tumbes Tyrant - South Ecuador S4E9643 (16666065997).jpg Tumbezia Chapman, 1925
Yellow-bellied Chat-Tyrant - Colombia S4E2594 (16687224919).jpg Silvicultrix Lanyon, W, 1986
Ochthoeca fumicolor (Pitajo ahumado) (15321450129).jpg Ochthoeca Cabanis, 1847
Viudita (Colorhamphus parvirostris)-4056-1500px-Ignacio-Azocar.jpg Colorhamphus Sundevall, 1872
Colonia colonus Atrapamoscas rabijunco Long-tailed Tyrant (11876830773).jpg Colonia
Short-tailed Field-Tyrant - South Ecuador S4E8007 (16710944637).jpg Muscigralla Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837
Cattle Tyrant - Pantanal - Brazil H8O0107 (16298240983).jpg Machetornis G.R. Gray, 1841
Legatus leucophaius Atrapamoscas pirata Piratic Flycatcher (6230421252).jpg Legatus P.L. Sclater, 1859
Phelpsia inornata White-bearded Flycatcher (6515680991) (cropped).jpg Phelpsia W. Lanyon, 1984
Rusty-margined flycatcher (25954179317).jpg Myiozetetes P.L. Sclater, 1859
Pitangus sulphuratus 3.jpg Pitangus Swainson, 1827
Lesser kiskadee (Pitangus lictor panamense).jpg Philohydor Lanyon, W, 1984
Conopias trivirgatus-Three-striped Flycatcher.JPG Conopias Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Myiodynastes chrysocephalus-2.jpg Myiodynastes Bonaparte, 1857
Megarynchus pitangua Bichofue picudo Boat-billed Flycatcher (16282096299).jpg Megarynchus Thunberg, 1824
Tyrannopsis sulphurea - Sulphury Flycatcher.JPG Tyrannopsis Ridgway, 1905
Empidonomus varius-2.jpg Empidonomus Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Griseotyrannus aurantioatrocristatus - Crowned slaty flycatcher.JPG Griseotyrannus W.E. Lanyon, 1984
Tyrannus-verticalis-001.jpg Tyrannus Lacépède, 1799
Rufous Mourner - Panama H8O0032.jpg Rhytipterna Reichenbach, 1850
Sirystes albocinereus - White-rumped Sirystes; Rio Branco, Acre, Brazil.jpg Sirystes Cabanis & Heine, 1859
Casiornis rufus -Piraju, Sao Paulo, Brazil-8.jpg Casiornis Des Murs , 1856
Myiarchus tyrannulus 1.jpg Myiarchus Cabanis, 1844
Ramphotrigon megacephalum - Large-headed Flatbill.jpg Ramphotrigon G.R. Gray, 1855
Attila torridus - Ochraceous Attila 2.jpg Attila Lesson, 1831

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Short-tailed pygmy tyrant</span> Species of bird

The short-tailed pygmy tyrant is a small species of tyrant-flycatcher. The species is one of the smallest birds on Earth and the smallest passerine. Among both the family and the order, only the closely related black-capped pygmy tyrant approaches similarly diminutive sizes. The pygmy tyrant is widespread throughout most of the Amazon in northern and central South America.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flammulated bamboo tyrant</span> Species of bird

The flammulated bamboo tyrant, also called flammulated pygmy tyrant is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae, the tyrant flycatchers. It is found in Amazonian Peru and Bolivia, and the bordering states of Brazil's northwest, the North Region. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Fork-tailed tody-tyrant</span> Species of bird

The fork-tailed tody-tyrant or fork-tailed pygmy tyrant is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae. It is endemic to Brazil. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest. It is threatened by habitat loss.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johannes's tody-tyrant</span> Species of bird

Johannes's tody-tyrant is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae. It is found in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests and heavily degraded former forest.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eye-ringed tody-tyrant</span> Species of bird

The eye-ringed tody-tyrant is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae. It is endemic to Brazil. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest. It is becoming rare due to habitat loss.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">White-eyed tody-tyrant</span> Species of bird

The white-eyed tody-tyrant is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae, the tyrant flycatchers.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">São Paulo bristle tyrant</span> Species of bird

The São Paulo bristle tyrant is a species of bird in the tyrant flycatcher family Tyrannidae. It was formerly placed in the genus Phylloscartes and known in English as the São Paulo tyrannulet. It is found in the southern Atlantic Forest region of South America. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest and subtropical or tropical moist montane forest. It is threatened by habitat loss.

<i>Poecilotriccus</i> Genus of birds

Poecilotriccus is a genus of small flycatchers in the family Tyrannidae. Except for the recently described Johnson's tody-flycatcher, all have, at one point or another, been included in the genus Todirostrum. Some species have been known as tody-tyrants instead of tody-flycatchers. Most species are found in South America, but a single species, the slate-headed tody-flycatcher, is also found in Central America. The black-chested tyrant may also belong in this genus, but most place it in the monotypic genus Taeniotriccus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ochre-faced tody-flycatcher</span> Species of bird

The ochre-faced tody-flycatcher is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae.

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

The black-backed tody-flycatcher is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae, and one of twelve in the genus Poecilotriccus.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Acre tody-tyrant</span> Species of bird

The Acre tody-tyrant is a species of bird in the family Tyrannidae, found in Bolivia and Brazil. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests.


  1. "Tyrant flycatchers « IOC World Bird List". www.worldbirdnames.org. Archived from the original on 2020-04-24. Retrieved 2020-10-02.
  2. del Hoyo, J. Elliott, A. & Christie, D. (editors). (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 9: Cotingas to Pipits and Wagtails. Lynx Edicions. ISBN   84-87334-69-5
  3. 1 2 Rheindt, F.E.; Norman, J.A.; Christidis, L. (2008). "Phylogenetic relationships of tyrant-flycatchers (Aves: Tyrannidae), with an emphasis on the elaeniine assemblage" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 46 (1): 88–101. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2007.09.011. PMID   18042406. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-12-10. Retrieved 2012-08-05.
  4. CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses, 2nd Edition by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (2008), ISBN   978-1-4200-6444-5.
  5. Bird, David Mitchell (2004). The Bird Almanac: A Guide to Essential Facts and Figures of the World's Birds. Buffalo, NY, USA: Firefly Books. p. 70. ISBN   978-1-55297-925-9. Archived from the original on 2019-12-29. Retrieved 2016-11-24.
  6. "List of Migratory Bird Species Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act as of December 2, 2013" Archived June 7, 2019, at the Wayback Machine U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
  7. BirdLife International (2007). Species factsheets. Accessed 12 December 2007 available online Archived 2007-07-10 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Gill, Frank; Donsker, David; Rasmussen, Pamela, eds. (December 2023). "Tyrant flycatchers". IOC World Bird List Version 14.1. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 12 January 2024.
  9. Adopt the Family Tityridae Archived 2008-05-08 at the Wayback Machine – South American Classification Committee (2007)

Further reading