Family Tyrant-flycatchers (Tyrannidae)

Least Concern

White-throated Tyrannulet (Mecocerculus leucophrys)


French: Tyranneau à gorge blanche German: Weißkehl-Tachurityrann Spanish: Piojito gargantilla

M[uscicapa]. leucophrys

d’Orbigny and Lafresnaye

, 1837,

Yanacachi, La Paz, Bolivia


Not obviously related to any of forms currently treated as congeners. Race pallidior has been proposed as separate species. Present species exhibits dramatic “leap-frog” pattern of geographical variation: birds of small size and bearing extremely similar colour patterns occur at N & S ends of range, with much larger and more richly coloured forms in intervening cordilleras. In view of remarkable differences between certain populations that occupy adjacent mountain ridges, several described taxa referring to marginally discernible intermediates are probably better merged with neighbouring forms: thus, montensis (Santa Marta Mts, in Colombia) and palliditergum (Venezuelan Coastal Range from Yaracuy E to Miranda) merged with nigriceps, and gularis (Sierra de Perijá and Mérida Andes, in W Venezuela) with setophagoides. Ten subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • M. l. notatus Todd, 1919 – W & C Andes of Colombia (S to Cauca).
  • M. l. setophagoides (Bonaparte, 1845) – Sierra de Perijá, E Andes of NW Venezuela (Táchira E to S Lara) and Colombia (Norte de Santander S to Cundinamarca).
  • M. l. nigriceps Chapman, 1899 – mountains of N Colombia (in Santa Marta region) and N Venezuela (Yaracuy E to Sucre and Monagas).
  • M. l. roraimae Hellmayr, 1921 – tepui zone of Amazonas (except Cerro Parú, Cerro Duida and Cerro Marahuaca) and Bolívar, in S & SE Venezuela; also adjacent parts of N Brazil and W Guyana.
  • M. l. parui Phelps, Sr & Phelps, Jr, 1950 – Cerro Parú, in NC Amazonas (Venezuela).
  • M. l. chapmani Dickerman, 1985 – Cerro Duida and Cerro Marahuaca, in C Amazonas (Venezuela).
  • M. l. rufomarginatus (Lawrence, 1869) – Andes of S Colombia (Nariño), Ecuador and NW Peru (Piura).
  • M. l. pallidior Carriker, 1933 – W Andes of Peru (Ancash, N Lima).
  • M. l. brunneomarginatus Chapman, 1924 – E Andes of Peru (S to Cuzco).
  • M. l. leucophrys (d’Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837) – E Andes from S Peru (S from Cuzco and Madre de Dios) S to N Argentina (La Rioja).
  • Descriptive notes

    11–14 cm; 8–11 g (roraimae). Nominate race is medium olive-grey above, darker on crown; pure white lores and thin supercilium, dusky face, auriculars... read more


    Typical note a singe “pit”; dawn song a musical, warbling series, “whichiry-wichiry-wichiry-chew”.


    Humid upper montane forest and forest edge, stunted cloudforest, elfin forest, brushy ravines at... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet predominantly insects and spiders, occasionally small fruits. Forages singly or in pairs, often alone; also regularly joins mixed-... read more


    Fledglings in Mar and birds with enlarged gonads in Jan–Aug in Colombia; fledglings in Aug–Sept in Ecuador; nests in Dec–... read more


    Resident. Apparently some elevational movement during austral winter.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Uncommon to very common. Widespread; can be found in any protected area within appropriate elevational zone in its range, although most common in S.

    Recommended citation

    Fitzpatrick, J. (2020). White-throated Tyrannulet (Mecocerculus leucophrys). 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 3 April 2020).