Fork tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus savana)

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Tyrannidae | [latin] Tyrannus savana | [UK] Fork-tailed Flycatcher | [FR] Tyran des savanes | [DE] Gabelschwanz-Konigstyrann | [ES] Tijereta Sabanera | [IT] Tiranno codaforcuta meridionale | [NL] Vorkstaart-koningstiran


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Tyrannus savana LA s Mexico to Uruguay
Tyrannus savana circumdatus
Tyrannus savana monachus
Tyrannus savana sanctaemartae
Tyrannus savana savana

Physical charateristics

The Fork-Tailed Flycatcher is dark Grey on top, and white below. Males sometimes show a yellow crown stripe atop their black cap. Males also have an extremely long double forked tail, even longer than it’s cousin, the Scissor-tailed Flycatcher. Juveniles and females have shorter tails. Males are 37-41cm in size, females measure 28-30cm, including tail. Birds weigh 28-32g.

Listen to the sound of Fork-tailed Flycatcher

[audio: Flycatcher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 37 cm size max.: 40 cm
incubation min.: 14 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 16 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


Its breeding range is found from central Mexico to central Argentina where it is usually found year round except for the southern parts of its range where it retreats northward for the winter. This species is also known to wander widely. It has occurred on a few occasions in the United States and Canada.


They are normally to be seen in savannas and pastures where there are trees or low bushes but during migration they can be found in almost any type of habitat.


Two to three white eggs with brown and lavender spots are laid in a cup nest made of grass, plant fibers, leaves, and bark shreds lined with seed down, plant down, and hair. Incubation ranges from 14 to 17 days and is carried out by the female. Fledging period is about 2 weeks.

Feeding habits

It is primarily an insectivore, but will switch to berries and small fruits during winter if insects become scarce


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 6,300,000 km². The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as ‘common’ 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.
Fork-tailed Flycatcher status Least Concern


Locally common in savannas and pastures with scattered bushes and trees when breeding. Highly migratory when not, and then can occur almost anywhere, especially as a transient. Often gregarious when not breeding, and when migrating in large loose flocks may stream over at considerable heights, gathering in enormous numbers (thousands or even more) at favoured roosting sites. Widespread, as a breeding resident or migrant or both, in non forested lowlands east of Andes south to cen. Argentina (Rio Negro, with a few recent records south to ne. Chubut). S. breeders (nominate savana) migrate north during austral winter (Mar. – Sept.), spreading out over Guianas, Venezuela, Amazonia, and Trinidad and Tobago, but precise details (especially in Amazonia) still not well known. Also Mexico to Panama, where migratory in part, some birds reaching n. South America during northern winter (Oct. – Mar.); overshooting austral migrants occasionally reach West Indies and e. North America.

Distribution map

Fork-tailed Flycatcher range map


Title Unusual bathing behavior of the Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Colombia
Abstract: While conducting a crocodile (Crocorlylus sp.) cen..[more]..
Source: Wilson Bull., 95(3), 1983, pp. 488-489

download full text (pdf)


Leave a Reply

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