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Myiodynastes maculatus

Streaked Flycatcher

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Polytypic 7 Subspecies

Authors: Shah, Shailee



Myiodynastes are large tyrant flycatchers with long, heavy bills, a black or dusky "mask" on the face, a semiconcealed yellow crown patch, and extensive rufous in the tail. Most species of Myiodynastes also are extensively streaked, and that is the case for Streaked Flycatcher. This flycatcher has a streaked, brownish-cinnamon crown, brown upperparts with dusky streaks, and pale yellowish white underparts with dark streaking on the breast, flanks and crissum.

Distinctive features of Streaked Flycatcher include a buffy supercilium and a dark malar stripe; yellow on the underparts; a rufous tail with a dark central stripe; and a pink lower-mandibular base. Both sexes also have a semi-concealed bright yellow coronal patch.

Similar Species

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (Myiodynastes luteiventris) is a sympatric sister species that is similar in appearance to Streaked Flycatcher. Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher can be distinguished from Streaked by a broader dusky lateral throat stripe that is narrowly joined across chin, the reduced (little or no) rufous edging on the primaries, a whiter supercilium, and a clear pale lower belly, with little streaking. Additionally, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher has a smaller, all black bill.

Another similar species is Variegated Flycatcher (Empidonomus varius) which, however, is notably smaller and smaller billed with darker upperparts, less streaking and a darker, blackish crown.


The daytime calls of Streaked Flycatcher, given by both sexes, variously are described as "a sharp, nasal, slightly woodpecker-like behnk or penk!, often repeated steadily" (Howell and Webb 1995), "a sharp, dry dik or chek [and] a dry, nasal chuk-yi chuk-yi or tsu-ka' tsu-ka', often repeated, especially when excited" (Stiles and Skutch 1989); and as "a dry tek and excited squeaky chatters" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010). 

The dawn song of northern populations is described as "cheer-o-wee-wee" (Gross 1950), “right-here-to-me,” “kawe-teedly-wink” (Skutch 1960), "wheeé-cheederee-wheeé" (Ridgely and Tudor 1994), or as "a rising note followed by a short musical chatter: reEET-chewlew'put" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010). The song is usually given from a high perch (Gross 1950, Skutch 1960).

In addition to these two main vocalizations, the repertoire of the species includes a loud, screaming alarm call when approached at their nests (Gross 1950, Wetmore 1972), what seems to be a contact call between a breeding pair, consisting of a mixture of twitters, churrs, clucks and near-trills (Skutch 1960) and a call to fledglings described by Gross (1950) as “curious gurgling noises” between feedings.

Calls of the southern subspecies solitarius are described as "a rising, slightly metallic whit, also an excited chattered series and a quiet puttering" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010). The dawn song of solitarius is "a squeaky reEET tiWICHu'whit" (Lane, in Schulenberg et al. 2010).

Additional audio recordings of vocalizations of Streaked Flycatcher can be heard at Macualay Library and at xeno-canto.

Nonvocal Sounds

None reported.

Detailed Description (appearance)

The following description is based on Ridgway (1907) and Wetmore (1972); see also Geographic Variation.

Adult: Sexes similar. Crown and nape olive to olive brown, feathers narrowly edged with cinnamon. Semiconcealed central crown patch bright yellow to orange yellow, edged with buff to cinnamon. Back, scapulars and upper rump grayish brown to olive, feathers edged with buff to buffy brown, and with dusky shaft streaks. Lower rump and uppertail coverts cinnamon rufous, narrowly streaked with black or dusky. Rectrices cinnamon rufous, lined along the shaft with dusky to dull black. Wings dusky; lesser wing coverts edged with pale cinnamon rufous; middle and greater coverts, primaries, and inner secondaries with narrow cinnamon rufous margins in outer web. Lores and sides of head dull black. Indistinct dull white to yellowish white supercilium. Submoustachial stripe and underparts, including chin, white, becoming yellowish on flanks, lower belly, and undertail coverts. Throat narrowly streaked dusky, streaking heavier on breast and flanks.

Juvenile: Similar to adult, but lacks yellow crown patch; rectrices more extensively rufous (dark shaft streak narrower).

Bare Parts

Iris: brown, dark brown

Bill: black, with a pinkish or pinkish beige base to the mandible

Tarsi and toes: gray, blackish gray, black

Bare parts color data from Belton (1985) and Haverschmidt and Mees (1994).


Total length: 20.5 cm (Ridgely and Greenfield 2001b), 21.5-23 cm (Schulenberg et al. 2010), 22 cm (Hilty and Brown 1986)

Linear measurements of wing, tail, culmen and tarsus of 3 of the 7 subspecies are given below: 

Wing, tail, culmen and tarsus measurments of M. m. insolens, M. m. difficilis and M. m. nobilis. Range of measurements with means in parentheses.



Wing (mm)

Tail (mm)

Culmen (mm)

Tarsus (mm)

M.m. insolens (Ridgway 1887)

Male (n = 9)

111.4 - 116.7


81.2 - 85.4 (83.3)

24.4 - 27.8(25.6) (from base)

19.0 - 20.8(20.0)

Female (n = 7)

106.1 - 110.5 (108.4)

74.8 - 81.0(78.7)

24.2 - 26.7 (25.2) (from base)

19.5 - 22.8 (21.1)

M. m. difficilis (Zimmer 1937)

Male (n = 16)

104.4 - 110.8 (107.4)

79.0 - 86.0 (83.2)

24.0 - 29.0 (26.9) (from base)

20.0 - 21.7 (20.5)

Female (n = 14)

101.5 - 106.0 (103.4)

77.1 - 84.8 (81.2)

25.5 - 29.5 (27.4) (from base)

19.3 - 21.7 (20.3)

M. m. nobilis (Ridgway 1887)

both / unknown

107.95 - 111.76

88.9 - 91.44

20.32 - 22.86 (exposed)


Mass: male, mean 42.5 g (range 38-45, n = 5, maculatus; Haverschmidt and Mees 1994); female, mean 42.7 g (range 37-46 g, n = 9, maculatus; Haverschmidt and Mees 1994)

male, mean 43.7 g (range 42-46 g, n = 3, solitarius; Haverschmidt and Mees 1994); female, 50 g (n = 1, solitarius; Haverschmidt and Mees 1994); male, 43 g, 45 g (n = 2, solitarius; Belton 1985).


Little information.

Geographic Variation

Seven subspecies recognized:

insolens Ridgway 1887; type locality Mirador, Veracruz, Mexico

Breeds from eastern Mexico south to Honduras; winters in northern South America.

"Darker above; crown more olive, less buff; back more olive" (Wetmore 1972).

difficilis Zimmer 1937; type locality Bebedero, Costa Rica

Breeds from western Costa Rica south through Panama to Colombia and northern Venezuela.

"Coloration most like that of M. m. maculatus ... but averaging warmer on head and back; bill notably heavier" (Zimmer 1937).

nobilis Sclater 1847; type locality Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, Colombia

northeastern Colombia

"Very similar to M. m. maculatus, but may generally be distinguished by its paler, more buffy upper side and by having the under parts more suffused with yellowish as well as more heavily streaked" (Hellmayr 1927).

tobagensis Zimmer; type locality Mariah, Tobabo

Trinidad, Tobago, Venezuela, and Guyana

"Similar to M. m. maculatus ... but averaging whiter below, with less yellowish suffusion on the breast, sides, flanks, and under tail-coverts; pectoral and gular stripes broader, darker, and sharper; under tail-coverts averaging more heavily streaked; upper surface darker, with the dark centers broader and more dusky and the pale edges narrower and less conspicuous; wing and tail longer; bill longer and heavier; dark shaft-stripes of tail averaging darker" (Zimmer 1937).

chapmani Zimmer; type locality Esmeraldas, Ecuador

western Colombia, western Ecuador and northwestern Peru

Most similar to difficilis, but "differing from it (as also from all other forms of the species) by the unusually broad and clear superciliary stripe most of which is unstreaked; pectoral stripes a little heavier than in difficilis" (Zimmer 1937).

maculatus (Müller 1776); type locality Cayenne

Suriname, French Guiana and northern Brazil south to Peru and northeastern Brazil

solitarius (Vieillot 1819); type locality Paraguay

Breeds from southern Peru east to southern and northeastern Brazil and south to Paraguay, Uruguay, and northern Argentina. Migrates north to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas, Ecuador and Peru.

The most distinctive subspecies; "blacker and more prominent streaking overall, mostly whitish [not rufous] wing margins, predominately blackish tail with very narrow rufous edgings on rectrices" (Mobley 2004). Despite its distinctiveness, solitarius reportedly intergrades with nominate maculatus in eastern Brazil south of the Amazon (1937).


Measurements of the bill of M. m. maculatus and M. m. difficilis




mean length of culmen (mm)



   Width at anterior end of nostrils (mm)




The phylogenetic relationships within Myiodynastes have not been studied. Mobley (2004) suggested that maculatus is sister to Myiodynastes luteiventris (Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher),and that these two in turn are sister to the pair Myiodynastes hemichrysus (Golden-bellied Flycatcher) and Myiodynastes chrysocephalus (Golden-crowned Flycatcher).

Subspecies solitarius has been classified as a separate species (e.g. Hellmayr 1927), but it intergrades with nominate maculatus in eastern Brazil (Zimmer 1937) and its vocalizations are similar to those of the other six subspecies (Ridely and Tudor 1994).

Affinities of Myiodynastes are unresolved. Some authors have suggested that Conopias and Myiodynastes might be related, primarily due to similarities in nest behavior (nesting in cavities), but Conopias has not been included in recent phylogenetic analyses of DNA sequence data (Eriscon et al. 2006, Ohlson et al. 2008, Tello et al. 2009).

Recommended Citation

Shah, Shailee. 2012. Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: