Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Rufous-tailed Tyrant (Knipolegus poecilurus)


French: Ada à queue rousse German: Fahlbauch-Dunkeltyrann Spanish: Viudita colirrufa

Empidochanes pœcilurus

P. L. Sclater

, 1862,

“Bogotá”, Colombia


Formerly placed in Cnemotriccus or in monotypic Eumyiobius but appears to be closely related to other members of present genus, despite lack of marked sexual plumage dimorphism; sister to K. poecilocercus (which see). Races poorly differentiated, and individual variation often greater than variation among taxa; race salvini moderately distinctive, but species genetically uniform#R. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • K. p. poecilurus (P. L. Sclater, 1862) – locally in mountains of Colombia (except Santa Marta) and extreme NW Venezuela (Sierra de Perijá).
  • K. p. venezuelanus (Hellmayr, 1927) – W & N Venezuela (Táchira, Mérida, Distrito Federal).
  • K. p. paraquensis Phelps, Sr & Phelps, Jr, 1949 – Cerro Sipapo (Paraque), in NW Amazonas (Venezuela).
  • K. p. salvini (P. L. Sclater, 1888) – S Venezuela (cerros of C & S Amazonas and S Bolívar) and immediately adjoining N Brazil and W Guyana.
  • K. p. peruanus (Berlepsch & Stolzmann, 1896) – Andes from E Ecuador (W Sucumbíos) S to SE Peru (Puno) and C Bolivia (W Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    14·5–15 cm; 13–15 g. Male nominate race is greyish to brownish-grey above; wings dusky, two broad buffy-grey wingbars (often absent), buff edges of inner remiges... read more


    Usually quiet; call a short, metallic trill, “tzteeer” or “triiit”.


    Borders of humid and wet montane or second-growth forest, pastures with scattered trees, and grassy... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Usually singly or in pairs, seldom with mixed-species flocks. Perches upright, sometimes in the open, but sometimes shy; often... read more


    One nest in NE Ecuador and another in the Central Andes of Colombia contained single eggs in Aug and late Apr respectively; both were... read more


    Resident; probably wanders more often than reported, frequently appearing at fresh landslides where... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally rare to uncommon, locally more common. Common at La Planada Nature Reserve (Nariño), in Colombia; uncommon around... read more

    Recommended citation

    Farnsworth, A. & Langham, G. (2020). Rufous-tailed Tyrant (Knipolegus poecilurus). 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 18 January 2020).