Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea)


French: Tyranneau des torrents German: Sturzbach-Kleintyrann Spanish: Piojito guardarríos

L[eptopogon]. cinereus


, 1844,

Tarma, Junín, Peru


Genetic data#R indicate that this species may be closest to S. nigricans. Smaller size of race grisea striking, and suggests a species-rank difference, but otherwise distinguished in plumage only by its whiter chin and throat; recordings of grisea appear to be lacking; further work required. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. c. grisea Lawrence, 1871 – Costa Rica and W Panama (E to Veraguas).
  • S. c. cinerea (Tschudi, 1844) – Andean slopes and foothills from Colombia (including Santa Marta Mts and Sierra de Perijá) and Venezuela (Trujillo) S to Bolivia (W Santa Cruz).
  • Descriptive notes

    11 cm; 7–8 g. Distinctive, pale grey tyrannulet of rocky torrents. Nominate race has black crown, nape and head side, semi-concealed white crownstripe, pale grey back... read more


    Dawn song a bubbly “chit-chitrrr, chit-chitrrr, chirr, chitrrr” repeated endlessly from... read more


    Most often along rocky margins of fast-flowing mountain streams and rivers surrounded by forest;... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Forages alone or in pairs, typically perching on rocks, roots, overhanging branches or riverbanks; makes short, quick sallies to... read more


    Jan–Jun in Costa Rica and Panama, May–Sept in Colombia, and Jul probably through Dec in E Peru. Nest (Costa Rica) a substantial... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common; rare in W Peru. Occurs in several protected areas, e.g. Rancho Naturalista, in Costa Rica, Tambito Nature Reserve, in Colombia,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Fitzpatrick, J. (2020). Torrent Tyrannulet (Serpophaga cinerea). 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 17 January 2020).