The Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant is a tiny olive bird. Like many species in the family Tyrannidae, it employs stereotyped sally-strike maneuvers to glean arthropod prey from the surfaces of leaves and twigs. It spends much of its time foraging, during which it frequently vocalizes. In these ways, it is a fairly typical tyrant-flyactcher, itself a dominant and diverse family of neotropical birds. Many neotropical birds are specialists in either diet or habitat, and the Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant joins a variety of other species (from different avian lineages) that are narrow habitat specialists, occurring almost exclusively within dense thickets of native Guadua bamboo. Guadua bamboo thickets are patchily distributed among much more vast humid forests composed of a diversity of broad-leafed evergreen trees. The Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant’s typical foraging behavior combined with narrow habitat specialization, makes it potentially a perfect study organism to research the patterns and processes behind resource partitioning, specialization, and ultimately why there are so many species of Amazonian birds, making the Neotropical avifauna the most diverse of any realm on Earth. Although the Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant will not likely be used to advertise cereal, is not coveted by the pet trade, and to my knowledge never has been revered by ancient or modern cultures like the toucans, macaws, the Harpy Eagle, and other charismatic Amazonian species, this species still has an interesting story to tell.
The Flammulated Pygmy-Tyrant is also commonly known as the Flammulated Bamboo-Tyrant (Ridgely and Tudor 1994, Clements and Shany 2001, Valqui 2004). The name “bamboo-tyrant” has not yet been accepted by the South American Classification Committee, but potentially could be, once the taxonomic relationships of species in the tody-tyrant clade (which includes Hemitriccus, Myiornis, Lophotriccus, Atalotriccus, Poecilotriccus, and Todirostrum) are more fully understood.