Birds of the World

COAST BIRDS
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WORLD BIRDS
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ANECDOTES

  New World Flycatchers
 
 
 

TRAITS
 Ratites
 Tinamous
 Cracids/Galli
 Waterfowl
   Screamers
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Totipalmate Swm

   Tropicbirds
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Waders
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 NW Vultures
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   Hornbills
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   Kingfishers
   Bee-eaters
   Jacamars/Puffbd

 
Pici
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   Woodpeckers
   Barbets/Toucans

PASSERINES
   NZ WRENS
   OW SUBOSC

      Broadbills
      Pittas

 NW SUBOSC
   NW Flycatchers

   Becards
   Cotingas
   Manakins
   Antbirds
   Ovenbirds
   Woodcreepers
   Antthrushes
   Tapaculos 

 OSCINES
 Lyre-/Scrub-birds
 Bowerbirds
 Aust. Wrens
 Honeyeaters
 Scrubwrens
 Aust. Robins
 Kinglets
 Shrikes
 Vireos
 Whistlers
 Corvids
 Birds-of-Paradse
 OW Orioles
 Cuckoo-shrikes
 Fantails
 Drongos
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 Bush-shrikes
 Wattle-eyes
 Vangas
 Waxwings
 Dippers
 Thrushes
 OW Flycatchers
 Starlings
 Mimids
 Nuthatches
 N Creepers
 Wrens
 Gnatcatchers
 Tits/Parids
 Larks
 Swallows
 Leaf-Warblers
 Bulbuls
 Cisticolas
 White-eyes
 Babblers
 OW Warblers
 Flowerpeckers
 Sunbirds
 OW Sparrows
 Accentors
 Pipits
 Estridids
 Weavers
 Whydahs
 9-prim. Oscines

   Fringillines
   Carduelines
   Hawaiian Honycrp
   NW Sparrows
   NW Warblers
   Tanagers
   Cardinals
   NW Blackbirds

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Passeriformes - New World Suboscines, Tyrannoidea
 
Skip to:   
Suboscines,
Families: New World Flycatchers, Tityras, Becards, Cotingas, Plantcutters, Manakins
 
Species:   
Galapagos Flycatcher
 
Images:   
Western Wood-Pewee, Black Phoebe, Great Kiskadee,
Fire-eyed Diucon
, Pied Water-tyrant, Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Bearded Bellbird, White-bearded Manakin
   
  Order Passeriformes - Perching Birds
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  Most passerines are smaller and less massive than members of non-passerine orders. They have a perching foot with three toes directed forward and one backward with locking tendons to facilitate perching when their tendons are flexed. All passerines scratch by bringing the foot over the wing. Incubation ranges from 11 -21 days. Young are altricial - they hatch blind with little or no down - and nidicolous - spending 10-15 days or so in the nest. Subsequent development is rapid and young approach adult mass at fledging. Parents provide care beyond fledging.
 
  Suborder Tyrannidi - New World Suboscines
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  New World Suboscines include the micronectine and tyrant flycatchers, Schiffornis, tityras and becards, cotingas, plantcutters and sharpbills, typical antbirds, and furnarids (ovenbirds and woodcreepers), and the ground antbirds, gnateaters, and tapaculos. The group includes 1097 species, 297 genera
   In the following descriptions, the first number of species is from Sibley and Monroe (1990) and the second (in parentheses) from Clements (2007) if the two sources do not agree. If there is a third set of numbers, they come from Harris, 2009).
   Tyrannids have variable syringeal characters. All have a two notched sternum with little variation. Attempts have been made to define the groups based on tarsal scutellation and foot structure but rigid application of these criteria can lead to misplacement of a few genera.
   
  Infraorder Tyrannides - "New World Suboscines"
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  Superfamily Tyrannoidea - Bronchophones
The "Bronchophones" have syringes in the bronchi, usually one in each bronchus.
   Sibley and Monroe (1990) include the following 4 families as subfamilies in the Family Tyrannidae. Here, each will be treated as a distinct family but some of the boundaries remain to be clarified:
 
  New World Tyrants
The AOU Checklist classifies suboscine birds found in North America as follows. Their centers of distribution are largely in South America with some representatives in North America. Because you may travel within the New World - and Ecotours are increasingly popular - I will list the families of the Suborder Tyrannii as they are arranged in the checklist. Our only North American species are found in the Family Tyrannidae in two of the subfamilies (Fluvicolinae and Tyranninae)...
   Family Funariidae - Ovenbirds (spinetails, graytail, barbtail, treerunners, wood-haunter, foliage-gleaners, xenops, leaftosser, streamcreeper -
       but not the ovenbird found in North America (that's a Wood Warbler).     Wiki     ToL     EoL
   Family Dendrocolaptidae - Woodcreepers (including scythebills)       Wiki     ToL     EoL
   Family Thamnophilidae - Antbirds  (antshrikes, antvireos, antwrens, antbirds)      Wiki     ToL     EoL
   Family Formicariidae - Ground Antbirds or Antthrushes (antthrushes, and antpittas)     Wiki     ToL     EoL
   Family Rhinocryptidae - Tapaculos     Wiki     ToL     EoL
   Family Tyrannidae - Tyrant Flycatchers     Wiki     ToL     EoL
      Subfamily Elaeniinae - Tyrannulets (tyrannulets, elaenia, various flycatchers)
      Subfamily Platyrinchinae - Pygmy-Tyrants (pygmy-tyrants, bentbills, tody-flycatchers, flatbills, spadebills, and various flycatchers)
      Subfamily Fluvicolinae - Fluvicoline Flycatchers (Olive-sided Flycatcher, pewees, wood-pewees, Empidonax flycatchers, phoebes, water-
          tyrants, and tyrants)
      Subfamily Tyranninae - Crested Flycatchers (flycatchers, kingbirds, long-tailed flycatchers)
 
  Family Tyrannidae - Micronectine Flycatchers,
        Tyrant Flycatchers
 
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EXAMPLE
  537 species, 146 genera (Sibley and Monroe, 1990); 563 species (Clements, 2007); 545 Species, 145 genera (Harris, 2009).
   Tyrants range from Alaska and Canada to Central America, the Caribbean Islands, all of South America, the Falklands, and the Galapagos. Micronectines occur from southern Mexico to Bolivia and northern Argentina. Tityras range from southern Arizona and Mexico to northern Argentina. Many are difficult to identify. Song is important for recognition of conspecifics by tyrants. Many have a dawn song which can sound quite different from their normal day-time song. A few species perform duets.
   Our only suboscine representatives are the New World (tyrant) flycatchers. They are small to medium in size. They have weak legs and feet, a large head, and a broad flattened bill with a hook at the tip but bills vary widely in the group. The gape (mouth opening) is surrounded by rictal bristles in most species. Their plumage is typically rather plain. Males and females are alike (monomorphic) in most species. Some have crests and a few have areas of colored skin. Juveniles have a lax plumage, similar in color to that of adults. This plumage is replaced by a partial or complete post-juvenile molt. Adults have a single complete annual molt. Wings vary according to foraging strategy and whether or not the species is migratory. Wings are longer in species that catch flying prey by hawking and in long-distance migrants - wings are shorter and rounder in species that sally to catch prey and are resident or short-distance migrants. Tails are usually medium in length but may be exceptionally short (pygmy-tyrants) or extremely long (fork-tailed tyrants).
   Flycatchers are typically solitary and arboreal although a few are social and gregarious with communal roosts. They tend to perch upright. Some cock their tail upwards, dip or wag the tail, or flick and raise their wings. Most feed by sallying forth from a perch, catching their prey, and then returning to the perch. Others forage within foliage and a few are terrestrial. Their diet is primarily insects but larger species may take small vertebrates. Most eat some fruit seasonally. They have distinctive calls that, in some cases, are necessary to identify the species. They live in a variety of habitats - from lowland desert, scrub, open woods, to dense forests.
   Most North American flycatchers are monogamous and build open cup nests in trees or shrubs or use tree cavities. Some build a globular nest with a side entrance. In the tropics, some nest on the ground or build hanging nests. A few species use old nests of other species or evict the occupants and take over. Male Mionectes have leks and are polygynous. The female does most of the incubating while the male defends the territory and provides food for the young. Flycatchers lay 2-6 eggs which are incubated 12-23 days. Chicks hatch with thin translucent down but rapidly acquire juvenile plumage. Chicks fledge in 12-28 days but remain with their parents for at least 2 weeks.

   Sibley and Monroe, 1990, include all members of this group in one family - they include the mionectine flycatchers, tyrant flycatchers, tityras and becards, cotingas, and manakins. Clements (2007) and Harris (2009) place this group in three families: cotingas, becards, and tityras; manakins; and the tyrant flycatchers. I've kept the flycatchers together but split the other groups into families. However, they are classified, these species are closely related. See New World Tyrants for the New World families recognized by the American Ornithologists' Union.
   All of our local representatives are tyrant flycatchers. They range from Alaska and Canada to Central America, the Caribbean Islands, all of South America, the Falklands, and the Galapagos Islands.
   The typical classification includes both micronectine and tyrant flycatchers, sister groups placed together in the Family Tyrannidae with 393 species and 99 genera (400 species and 98 genera - Harris, 2009).

Subfamily Pipromorphinae - Micronectine Flycatchers. 53 species, 8 genera. Mionectes, Leptopogon, Pseudotriccus, Poecilotriccus, Taeniotriccus, Hemitriccus, Totirostrum, Corythopis.

Subfamily Tyranninae - Tyrant Flycatchers. 340 species, 91 genera. Phyllomyias, Zimmerius, Ornithion, Camptostoma, Phaeomyias, Nesotriccus, Capsiempis, Sublegatus, Suiuri, Tyrannulus, Myiopagis, Pseudelaenia, Elaenia, Mecocerculus, Serophaga, Inezia, Stigmatura, Anairetes, Tachurus, Culicivora, Polystictus, Pseudocotopteryx, Euscarthmus, Phylloscartes, Myiornis, Lophotriccus, Atalotriccus, Oncostoma, Cnipodectes, Ramphotrigon, Rhynchocyclus, Tolmomyias, Platyrinchus, Onychorhynchus, Myiotriccus, Mylophobus, Myiobius, Pyrrhomyiax, Hirundinea, Cnemotriccus, Lathrotriccus, Aphanotriccus, Xenotriccus, Mitrephanes, Contopus, Empidonax, Sayornis, Pyrocephalus, Silvicultrix, Ochthoeca, Colorhamphus, Octhornis, Cnemarchus, Myiotheretes, Xolmis, Heteroxolmis, Neoxolmis, Agriornis, Polioxolmis, Muscisaxicola, Muscigralla, Lessonia, Knipolegus, Hymenops, Fluvicola, Arundinicola, alecturus, Gubernetes, Satrapa, Colonia, Machetornis, Muscipipra, Attila, Casiornis, Rhytipterna, Laniocera, Sirystes, Myiarchus, Deltarhynchus, Tyrannus, Empidonomus, Griseotyrannus, Tyrannopsis, Megarynchus, Conopias, Myiodynastes, Myiozetetes, Legatus, Philohydor, Pitangus, Phelpsia.
     
  Western Flycatchers - Photos by Ed Konrad
 
Western Wood-Pewee
Black Phoebe  
 
 
Western Wood-Pewee, Contopus sordidulus. Pawnee National Grassland, CO
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Black Phoebe, Sayornis nicricans. Point Reyes National Seashore, CA
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Great Kiskadee
Kiskidee Great Kiskadee, Pitangus sulphuratus.
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  Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad (left)
           Aransas NWR, TX (above)
 
     
  South American Flycatchers    
  Fire-eyed Diucon
Pied Water-tyrant  
 
Fire-eyed Diucon, Xolmis pyrope. One of 8 species of Monjitas - a group of tyrant flycatchers with greater diversity east of the Andes. The Cliffs, Patagonia. Chile.
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Pied Water-tyrant, Fluvicola pica
Agricultural Station, Valencia, Trinidad
Photo by Ed Konrad
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  Family Tityridae - Tityras, Becards
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  30 species, 7 genera. Family includes Tityras (Tityra), Mourners (Schiffornis, Laniocera, Laniisoma), Purpletufts (Iodopleura), Xenopsaris (Xenopsaris), and Becards (Pachyramphus). The Sharpbill (Oxyruncus) may also belong here (now considered incertae sedis). Harris (2009) places these species with the cotingas (below).
   Titryras (Mourners) are found in forests and woodland of the Neotropics. These birds range from Alaska and Canada to Central America, the Caribbean Islands, South America, the Falklands, and the Galapagos. Becards range from southern Arizona to northern Argentina with one species on Jamaica. This family was proposed by syringeal and skeletal morphology and confirmed by DNA studies. Sibley and Monroe (1990) place it as a subfamily within the Family Tyrannidae.
   All are small to medium sized birds. In the tityras, adult males are light grey above and white below and the wings and tail are at least partially black. All three species have some black head markings. Females are duller. They are found in clearings, edges, or other semi-open habitat. They nest in holes - often old woodpecker nests. The feed on fruits, large insects, and occasionally on small vertebrates.
   Becards (Pachyramphus -16 or 17 species) have large heads with a slight crest. Most are sexually dimorphic. Bills are gray. They are found in wooded habitats - open woodlands to dense rainforest. The nest is a bulky globular mass with an entrance near the bottom, slung from outer branches at middle to higher levels.
 
  Family Cotingidae - Cotingas, Plantcutters, Sharpbill
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  69 (71) species, 28 genera. Harris (2009) lists 97 species in 34 genera. Mexico south through South America to northeastern Argentina and Paraguay (Patagonia). Sibley and Monroe (1990) include this group as a subfamily in the Tyrannidae.
   They vary in size from that of a kinglet (Kinglet Calyptura, Calyptura cristata) to a crow (Amazonian Umbrellabird, Cephalopterus ornatus). They are a diverse family found in forest edges where they eat mostly fruit and are important dispersers of seeds. Some species take insects or small vertebrates. Plantcuters eat leaves, buds, flowers, and grasses.  The bill is broad but relatively short with a hook. Fruiteaters have a wide gape. Plantcutters have a small bill with a serrated maxilla. A few species have rictal bristles. Some have bare skin on the head or throat or wattles that are inflated during courtship and several have crests. Some species have powderdown (unique among suboscines). The toes are syndactyl. Tarsi are scutellate. Males may be brightly colored and many species are sexually dimorphic. Some display in leks. They include such diverse types as umbrellabirds, bellbirds, and cocks-of-the-rock. Other species include plantcutters, berryeaters, fruiteaters, pihas, fruitcrows, and the Capuchinbird, Perissocephalus tricolor. Some have loud and distinctive calls.
   Cotingas are generally arboreal. Most are relatively quiet and feed in one spot for long periods. They range from coastal mangroves, arid scrub, and from open woodland to humid tropical forests. Most are frugivorous, swallowing whole fruits and regurgitating seeds. Some include insects and small invertebrates in their diet. Plantcutters eat leaves, buds, flowers, and grasses.
   Many species are monogamous but a few are polygamous (with courtship leks) and cooperative breeding has been documented for one species. Nests are open cups of platforms in a tree or shrub. They lay 1-4 eggs and incubation takes 18-28 days. Fledging usually takes 28-33 days (longer in Cock-of-the-Rocks, Rupicola, and shorter in plantcutters.
    Plantcutter Plantcutter

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Rufous-tailed Plantcutter, Phytotoma rara. Male and female above, Male left. The Cliffs, Patagonia, Chile.
Bearded Bellbird, Procnias averano
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
Photo by Ed Konrad
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    Family Pipridae - Manakins
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     52 (57) species, 15 genera (Sibley and Monroe, 1990, Clements, 2007). Harris (2009) lists 48  species in 13 genera. Southeastern Mexico to southeastern Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Peru (absent west of the Andes and in Patagonia. Members of the family include the manakins, tyrant-manakins, and piprites.
   Manakins are small, short-winged, short-tailed forest birds with small bills, broad at the base with a  terminal hook. Their syrinx is distinctive and so variable that genera can be identified from it alone. They are able to swallow proportionately large food items. They feed mostly on small fruits but take some insects and spiders. Most are sexually dimorphic and many males have striking plumage. Several species have specialized feathers (in Manacus, the outer primaries are stiff and produce a whirring sound in flight; in Wire-tailed Manakins, Pipra filicauda, the shaft of tail feather end in projecting filaments; In the Long-tailed Manakin, Chiroxiphia linearis, the central tail feathers extend 4-6 inches beyond the tail, longer than the head and body). Some males have 3 different subadult plumages and mature in their fourth year. Foraging often involves aerial sallies to pluck fruits or flycatching insects on the wing. They depend on small fruits for the bulk of their diet. Manakins are highly arboreal found exclusively in woodlands and humid tropical forests, mostly in lowlands.
   Manakins are polygynous. Males in some species have elaborate courtship displays centered in "leks." They may spend much of their waking hours on these territories, displaying when they sense nearby females. Females have large non-exclusive territories in which they may feed socially. They build relatively small nests, often near the ground. They lay 2 eggs which they incubate (18-21 days). Females provide care for the young for 13-15 days. Male Helmeted Manakins, Antilophia galeata, do form pairs but their contribution is limited to tertritory defense.
    White-bearded Manakin White-bearded Manakin, Manacus manacus
Asa Wright Nature Center, Trinidad
Photo by Ed Konrad
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    Banner - Rufous-tailed Plantcuttter. Patagonia. Chile.