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Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Polytypic: 3 subspecies
  • Authors: Alex. E. Jahn, Philip C. Stouffer, and R. Terry Chesser

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.

Dawn song

© Geoffrey A. Keller

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Jahn, A. E., P. C. Stouffer, and R. T. Chesser (2013). Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.