Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Brown-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus)


French: Tyran de Wied German: Braunschopftyrann Spanish: Copetón tiranillo

Muscicapa tyrannulus

Statius Müller

, 1776,



Phylogenetic analysis of mtDNA#R places this species in a clade with M. yucatanensis, M. crinitus and M. cinerascens. Same study suggests that N Venezuelan, Colombian and Caribbean populations of present species may belong instead with M. nugator (itself formerly treated in present species), in which case correct name for that species would be M. erythrocercus, a name currently buried within synonymy of tyrannulus; remaining populations of South America would belong to a different clade (M. tyrannulus), while those of North and Central America would form a further species (M. cooperi) or even two (with split of M. magister); form brachyurus of Pacific Central America not included in analysis. Later study#R agreed broadly with these findings, but suggested that Middle American races of present species are sister to M. magnirostris, these together being sister to a group formed by South American races and M. nugator. Morphological diversity among all populations low, with island taxa cozumelae and insularum weakly differentiated. Nominate and bahiae reported to intergrade; possibility of any interaction/intergradation between cooperi and brachyurus in Honduras and El Salvador requires study. See also M. magnirostris. Seven subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. t. magister Ridgway, 1884 – Arizona Brown-crested Flycatcher – S USA (SE California, S Nevada and SW Utah, W, SC & SE Arizona, SW New Mexico) and W Mexico (S to Pacific slope of E Oaxaca); Tres Marías Is.
  • M. t. cooperi S. F. Baird, 1858 – Cooper's Brown-crested Flycatcher – S USA (S Texas) and E Mexico (S to interior E Oaxaca and E to Quintana Roo) S to Belize, N Guatemala and N Honduras.
  • M. t. insularum J. Bond, 1936 – Bay Is (Utila, Roatán, Guanaja), off N Honduras.
  • M. t. cozumelae Parkes, 1982 – Cozumel I.
  • M. t. brachyurus Ridgway, 1887 – Ometepe Brown-crested Flycatcher – W Nicaragua and NW Costa Rica.
  • M. t. tyrannulus (Statius Müller, 1776) – Southern Brown-crested Flycatcher – N & E Colombia, Venezuela (except S), Leeward Antilles, Trinidad and Tobago, the Guianas and lower Amazon (W to Manaus), and S of Amazonia in N & E Peru, N & E Bolivia, S Brazil (Acre to W Mato Grosso do Sul), W Paraguay and N Argentina (S to Córdoba and Santa Fe).
  • M. t. bahiae Berlepsch & Leverkühn, 1890 – lower Amazon Basin (Pará, E Mato Grosso, E Mato Grosso do Sul) S through E Brazil (S to São Paulo) to E Paraguay and NE Argentina (Misiones).
  • Descriptive notes

    18–23 cm; male 28·3–29·8 g and female 25·5–32·5 g (N tyrannulus), male 22·8–30·4 g and female 22... read more


    In response to intrusion by conspecifics, emits series of “huit” notes, rasps and... read more


    Forest edge and woodland, including lowland riparian woodland, thorn woodland, second growth, and... read more

    Food and feeding

    During breeding takes almost exclusively arthropods, primarily insects (e.g. cicadids); rarely, lizards (e.g. Anolis). More... read more


    Mar–Aug in North America; Jan–Jul and Oct–Nov in N South America and Oct–Dec in S. Cavity-nester; nest lined with... read more


    Partially migratory in USA and Mexico, also in S South America (details of movements unresolved). N... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common. Estimated global population 7,700,000 individuals. Survey data show that US breeding population increased substantially... read more

    Recommended citation

    Joseph, L. (2019). Brown-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus tyrannulus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 7 December 2019).