Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Southern Scrub-flycatcher (Sublegatus modestus)


French: Moucherolle modeste German: Pantanalstrauchtyrann Spanish: Mosquero matorralero sureño

M[uscipeta]. modesta


, 1831,

Camamú and Bahia, Brazil


See S. arenarum. Dawn song of present species distinct from those of S. arenarum and S. obscurior in number of notes per phrase or length of longest phrase (4) and higher frequency (3), and daytime call has much higher frequency (ns[3])#R. Birds in highlands of Bolivia, which are longer-winged but resident, may represent an unnamed cryptic species. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. m. modestus (Wied, 1831) – C Peru (Urubamba Valley in Cuzco) and N Bolivia E through S Brazil (E to Maranhão, Pernambuco and Paraná).
  • S. m. brevirostris (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837) – S Bolivia and Paraguay S to N Argentina (S to Buenos Aires and Mendoza) and E to Uruguay; regular non-breeding visitor N to E Peru and C Amazonia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 9·5–13 g. Nominate race is greyish-brown above, with almost imperceptible pale supercilium; wings dusky grey, with paler greyish wingbars; tail dusky; chin... read more


    Dawn song of lowland birds a loud, repeated 2-syllable “pseee-ú”; call note a soft “cheer”.


    Breeds in arid scrub and open deciduous woodland, mainly in very dry habitats; during migration and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods recorded. Forages inconspicuously in shrubs and small trees, perching upright with tail vertically downwards; food items... read more


    Nest-building in Sept and many nests with eggs or young Oct–Dec in Argentina; singing and birds with enlarged testes in late Oct in N... read more


    Migratory in S. Populations breeding in Argentina (brevirostris) reach N at least to W... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Uncommon. Occurs in several protected areas, e.g. Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve and Tambopata-Candamo Reserved Zone, in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Robbins, M. (2019). Southern Scrub-flycatcher (Sublegatus modestus). 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 14 December 2019).