Boat billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua)

Boat-billed Flycatcher

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Tyrannidae | [latin] Megarynchus pitangua | [UK] Boat-billed Flycatcher | [FR] Tyran pitangua | [DE] Starkschnabel-Maskentyrann | [ES] Bienteveo Pitangua | [IT] Pitango beccogrosso | [NL] Bootsnaveltiran


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tyrannopsis pitangua
Megarynchus pitangua LA Mexico to ne Argentina
Megarynchus pitangua caniceps
Megarynchus pitangua chrysogaster
Megarynchus pitangua deserticola
Megarynchus pitangua mexicanus
Megarynchus pitangua pitangua
Megarynchus pitangua tardiusculus

Physical charateristics

Adult Boat-billed Flycatchers are 23 cm long. The head is black with a strong white eyestripe and a concealed yellow crown stripe. The upperparts are olive-brown, and the wings and tail are brown with only faint rufous fringes. The underparts are yellow and the throat is white. The massive black bill, which gives this species its English and generic names, is the best distinction from the similar Great Kiskadee, which also has more rufous tail and wings, and lacks the olive tone to the upperparts.

Listen to the sound of Boat-billed Flycatcher

[audio: Flycatcher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 21 cm size max.: 24 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 24 days fledging max.: 25 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


It breeds in open woodland with some tall trees from Mexico south to Bolivia and Argentina, and on Trinidad.


It is found at forest edges and semi-open areas with large trees. They perch high on the interior branches of large open trees. They do not remain long in any single location and wander widely in pairs or in family groups of three to five. Young Boat-billed Fly-catchers remain with their parents for months, after they have become able to fend for themselves.


The nest, built by the female, is an open saucer of sticks. The typical clutch is two or three whitish eggs heavily blotched with brown. These are incubated mostly by the female for 17-18 days with a further 24 days to fledging.

Feeding habits

Their diet is principally composed of insects, especialy cicadas that they catch amid the foliage or on the bark of the trees. They use a sally-strike technique to snap the prey while they are in flight. When the prey is caught, it is carried to a perch and beaten against the perch. After beating the prey on one side, the bird turns it in its bill by loosening its grip at the same time that it gives the insect a slight toss, then seizes it in a different position and beats it until it has been thoroughly pounded on all sides. After pounding both sides the bird then swallows the prey. They will occasionally perch or hover to take fruit and use the same pounding technique before swallowing the fruit.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 13,000,000 km². The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as ‘frequent’ in at least parts of its range (Stotz et al. 1996). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Boat-billed Flycatcher status Least Concern


Mainly sedentary but some populations migrate (wander) to lower elevations.

Distribution map

Boat-billed Flycatcher range map


Title An observation of attempted interspecific kleptoparasitism between two neotropical Tyrannid flycatchers
Author(s): Floyd E. Hayes
Abstract: Kleptoparasitism, the interspecific and intraspeci..[more]..

download full text (pdf)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *