Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa)


French: Tyran querelleur German: Graslandtyrann Spanish: Picabuey

Tyrannus rixosus


, 1819,



Race obscurodorsalis may be better merged with flavigularis, the two intergrading in Venezuela. Some specimens of nominate from Piauí (NE Brazil) closely approach flavigularis. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. r. flavigularis Todd, 1912 – E Panama, N, C & E Colombia (N Chocó and upper R Sinú E to Guajira, S to Cauca) and N Venezuela (E to Guárico, W Anzoátegui and Delta Amacuro, S to N Bolívar).
  • M. r. obscurodorsalis Phelps, Sr & Phelps, Jr, 1948 – SW Venezuela (Barinas, W Apure and S Cojedes), E Colombia E of Andes (S from Norte de Santander) and E Ecuador.
  • M. r. rixosa (Vieillot, 1819) – E & S Brazil (extreme NE Pará E to Rio Grande do Norte, and S to Rio Grande do Sul, also S from S Mato Grosso and Goiás), N & E Bolivia (Beni and Santa Cruz S to Tarija), Paraguay, most of N Argentina (S to San Luis, Córdoba and Buenos Aires) and Uruguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    19·5 cm; 29–40 g. Nominate race is primarily pale olive-brown or sandy brown to caramel-brown above; head mostly pale brownish, more greyish on crown, bright... read more


    Common call a brief series of thin, squeaky notes that rises in pitch, dawn song a short, repeated... read more


    Drier semi-open to open habitats, including savanna, pastureland with scattered bushes and trees,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Usually forages in pairs or small groups. Semi-terrestrial; runs rapidly on ground, with upright posture, sometimes for... read more


    Nest-building observed in Mar (Meta) and juveniles in Jul (lower R Sinú) in Colombia; season Jun–Oct (Guárico) and... read more


    Mostly resident; some dispersal or local movements occur. Populations of nominate race in S part of... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common. Tolerant of converted habitat, and occurs in many national parks and other protected areas throughout its large range.

    Recommended citation

    Mobley, J. (2019). Cattle Tyrant (Machetornis rixosa). 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 19 November 2019).