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Tyrannus melancholicus

Tropical Kingbird

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Polytypic 3 Subspecies

Authors: Jahn, A.E., P.C. Stouffer, and R.T. Chesser

Tyrannus melancholicus

Distrito Federal, Brazil; 9 March 2008 © Bertrando Campos

Tropical Kingbird is one of the most widespread and conspicuous inhabitants of open forest, forest edge, scrub and agricultural land from the southwestern United States south to Argentina. Tropical Kingbird has a gray head with a semiconcealed red coronal patch, dusky lores, white throat, grayish olive upperparts and yellow underparts. Tropical Kingbird is extremely similar in appearance to Couch's Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii), and the two species are best distinguished in the field by voice.  Considered more of a foraging specialist than most other neotropical flycatchers, Tropical Kingbird forages almost exclusively by hawking insects from a perch. Tropical Kingbird is resident across most of its range, although both the northernmost and southernmost populations are migratory. Populations that breed in the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico migrate south in the northern winter, and as birds that breed from southern Bolivia south to Argentina migrate north to Amazonia for the austral winter.

Recommended Citation

Jahn, A.E., P.C. Stouffer, and R.T. Chesser. 2013. Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

This map is based on maps available from the NatureServe InfoNatura website, for the distribution in Central America and/or Caribbean, and on a map provided by Robert S. Ridgely, for the South American distribution.

The data for the InforNatura maps are provided by NatureServe in collaboration with Robert Ridgely, James Zook, The Nature Conservancy - Migratory Bird Program, Conservation International - CABS, World Wildlife Fund - US, and Environment Canada - WILDSPACE.

  • Migration/Movement:Complex Migrant
  • Primary Habitat:Secondary forest
  • Foraging Strata:Canopy
  • Foraging Behavior:Sally
  • Diet:Omnivorous
  • Sociality:Solitary/Pairs
  • Mating System:Monogamy
  • Nest Form:Cup
  • Clutch: 2 - 4
  • IUCN Status:Least Concern