What's in a Name? Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher

Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher by Jean Paul Perret


What’s in a name? This small and colorful tyrant flycatcher was originally named Lulu’s Tody-Tyrant to honor Lulu Von Hagan for her support of avian research, but is now more widely known as Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher in honor of one of the people who first described the species in 2001.


Whatever you call it, this is one lively bird. Like other flycatchers such as the Olive-sided, Johnson’s Tody-Flycatcher forages for its insect prey in short sallying flights and by gleaning the undersides of leaves. It is nearly always encountered in pairs, with both sexes calling back and forth with emphatic 'chick!' notes throughout the day. Like other tyrant flycatchers, this species does not have a sophisticated song; aside from the call note, it sounds off with a short, unmusical trill.


The species inhabits the forests of Peru, along with other rare birds such as the Long-whiskered Owlet and the Royal Sunangel.


Cloud forests within the documented range of the species are being cleared for timber, agriculture, and to secure land ownership. Although ABC and our partner ECOAN have protected more than 25,000 acres of cloud and montane forests at Abra Patricia, including habitat for this species, the forests outside these protected acres are under increased threat due to rapid colonization and population growth.


Johnson's Tody-Flycatcher inhabits early successional vegetation, such as land affected by landslides as well as roadsides within cloud forests.


“The entrance road to Owlet Lodge in Abra Patricia has been a reliable spot to see this spritely bird, with visitors spotting it upon arrival or before breakfast on their first morning,” said ABC Conservation Biologist Daniel Lebbin. “That’s a great way to start or end the day! The vegetation is getting a bit higher recently, making good views of this bird a bit more challenging at this spot.”


Read about another tyrant flycatcher that benefits from ABC’s work: the Cock-tailed Tyrant, which can be found in the recently expanded Barba Azul Nature Reserve in Bolivia.


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