Bird of the Week, January 11, 2013
Cock-tailed Tyrant


Cock-tailed Tyrant by Scott Olmstead


This distinctive bird is a member of the tyrant-flycatcher family, a large, New World group of insect-eating birds. The name “tyrant” reflects the aggressive nature of some of these species, which drive away larger birds that venture too near their nests. Male Cock-tailed Tyrants are eye-catching; mostly black above, with white shoulder patch, face and underparts. Its black tail has broad central feathers that stand perpendicular to the others, giving the bird its “cock-tailed” appearance.


Females are similar to males, but brown instead of black, and lack the fancy tail.
The biggest threat to this species is continuing habitat loss. Grasslands throughout its range are threatened by agriculture, livestock farming, plantations, and mining. Its dependence on tall grasslands makes it especially sensitive to intensive grazing, trampling by cattle, and frequent burning.


In Bolivia, ABC works with Asociación Armonía to manage the Blue-throated Macaw Reserve, which also protects the Cock-tailed Tyrant. ABC has helped Armonía acquire land to establish the reserve and build infrastructure for reserve management, including a research station. For those interested in visiting the reserve for its excellent birding, please see Conservation Birding and Birding Bolivia




Photo: Scott Olmstead; Range Map, NatureServe