Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

River Tyrannulet (Serpophaga hypoleuca)


French: Tyranneau des rivières German: Uferkleintyrann Spanish: Piojito ribereño

Serpophaga hypoleuca

P. L. Sclater and Salvin

, 1866,

near Sarayacu, lower Río Ucayali, Peru


Race venezuelana may be inseparable from pallida, but paucity of specimens precludes effective study. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. h. venezuelana J. T. Zimmer, 1940 – R Orinoco and tributaries in extreme E Colombia and C Venezuela.
  • S. h. hypoleuca P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1866 – E Ecuador, E Peru, SE Colombia, W Amazonian Brazil and N Bolivia.
  • S. h. pallida E. Snethlage, 1907 – lower Amazon and lower R Tapajós and R Tocantins, in EC Brazil.
  • Descriptive notes

    10·5 cm; 5·5–6·7 g. Slender, grey tyrannulet of river-island scrub. Nominate race has grey forehead, black mid-crown, central crown feathers... read more


    Excited, slightly rising rattle preceded by 2-note phrase accented on second note, “chip-sk... read more


    Mainly low, sparse, early-successional scrub along large river margins and islands, also seasonally... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small insects. Forages alone, or in pairs or family groups. Active, reminiscent of a gnatcatcher (Polioptila), restlessly moving... read more


    Jun–Oct in Colombia; fledgling in Jul and nest in Oct in Venezuela. Nest a delicate, tightly constructed open cup, outer diameter 4·5... read more


    Resident; may move seasonally with changes in water level.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Rare to fairly common, but local. In Venezuela, fairly common at Hato Cedral and Hato El Frio (W Apure), and on river islets near Porto Ayacucho (NW... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fitzpatrick, J. (2019). River Tyrannulet (Serpophaga hypoleuca). 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 16 December 2019).