Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

Great Kiskadee

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Tyrannidae | [latin] Pitangus sulphuratus | [UK] Great Kiskadee | [FR] Tyran quiquivi | [DE] Schwefelmaskentyrann | [ES] Bienteveo Comun | [IT] Pitango solforato | [NL] Grote Kiskadie


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Philohydor sulphuratus
Pitangus sulphuratus NA, LA sw USA to c Argentina
Pitangus sulphuratus argentinus
Pitangus sulphuratus bolivianus
Pitangus sulphuratus caucensis
Pitangus sulphuratus derbianus
Pitangus sulphuratus guatimalensis
Pitangus sulphuratus maximiliani
Pitangus sulphuratus rufipennis
Pitangus sulphuratus sulphuratus
Pitangus sulphuratus texanus
Pitangus sulphuratus trinitatis

Physical charateristics

Adult Great Kiskadees are 22 cm (8.7 in) long and weigh 63 g (2.2 oz). The head is black with a strong white eyestripe and a concealed yellow crown stripe. The upperparts are brown, and the wings and tail are brown with usually strong rufous fringes.

The black bill is short and thick. The similar Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua) has a massive black bill, an olive-brown back and very little rufous in the tail and wings. A few other tyrant flycatchers – some not very closely related – share a similar color pattern, but these species are markedly smaller.

Listen to the sound of Great Kiskadee

[audio: Kiskadee.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 20 cm size max.: 23 cm
incubation min.: 16 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 17 days fledging max.: 18 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


The Great Kiskadee is one of the most common birds in South America where it is found everywhere except on the Pacific coast and in the far south.


It breeds in open woodland with some tall trees, including cultivation and around human habitation, from southern Texas and Mexico south to central Argentina, and on Trinidad. It was introduced to Bermuda in 1957, and to Tobago in about 1970.


The nest, built by both sexes in a tree or telephone pole, is a ball of sticks with a side entrance. The typical clutch is 3 or 4 cream eggs lightly blotched with reddish brown. They are incubated by the female for about 15 days. The young fledge after 16 days. The young are fed by both sexes, sometimes this species is parasitized by Shiny Cowbirds.
Kiskadees are monogamous. A male will mate with only one female. Mating season begins in late March. The female great kiskadee lays two to five creamy-white and brown speckled eggs in a domed nest made of sticks, grass, moss and bark. The nest has a single entry hole and is lined with soft material like wool and feathers. The nest is usually built in a thorn tree or bush. Both parents defend the nesting territory and care for the young.

Feeding habits

It is almost omnivorous, and hunts like a shrike or flycatcher, waiting on an open perch high in a tree to sally out to catch insects in flight, or to pounce upon rodents and other small prey. It will also take prey and some fruit from vegetation by gleaning and jumping for it, and occasionally dives for fish in shallow water, making it one of the few fish-eating passerines. Such opportunistic feeding behavior makes it one of the commonest birds in urban areas around Latin America; its flashy belly and its shrill call make it one of the most conspicuous


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 16,000,000 km². It has a large global population estimated to be 5,000,000?50,000,000 individuals (Rich et al. 2003). 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.
Great Kiskadee status Least Concern


Mostly resident but some seasonal movement in Brasil, vagrants found in California.

Distribution map

Great Kiskadee range map


Title Foraging behavior of tyrant flycatchers (Aves, Tyrannidae) in Brazil
Author(s): Vagner de A. Gabriel; Marco A. Pizo
Abstract: In this paper we present data on the foraging mane..[more]..
Source: Rev. Bras. Zool. vol.22 no.4

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Title Cavity Nesting by Great Kiskadees (Pitangus sulphuratus):
Adaptation or Expression of Ancestral Behavior?
Abstract: Beginning with the work of von Ihering (1904), the..[more]..
Source: The Auk 113(4):953-955, 1996

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Author(s): Paul Smith
Abstract: The Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus) is one o..[more]..
Source: Boletín SAO Vol. XVI (No. 01) – Jul. 2006

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