Piratic Flycatcher (Legatus leucophaius)

Piratic Flycatcher

[order] Passeriformes | [family] Tyrannidae | [latin] Legatus leucophaius | [UK] Piratic Flycatcher | [FR] Tyran pirate | [DE] Kurzschnabel-Maskentyrann | [ES] Mosquero Pirata | [IT] Pigliamosche pirata | [NL] Piraattiran


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Phelpsia leucophaius
Legatus leucophaius LA widespread
Legatus leucophaius leucophaius
Legatus leucophaius variegatus

Physical charateristics

The adult Piratic Flycatcher is 15 cm long and weighs 23g. The upperparts are unstreaked plain brown, although the flight feathers have narrow white edges. The head has a long whitish supercilium, a concealed yellow crown stripe, and a dusky mask through the eyes. The throat is white, and there is a white malar stripe. The underparts are whitish with blurred brownish streaking on the breast and flanks. The dark bill is short and broad.

Listen to the sound of Piratic Flycatcher

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/P/Piratic Flycatcher.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 14 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 16 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 18 days fledging max.: 29 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 3  


It is a resident breeder from southern Mexico and Trinidad south to Bolivia and Argentina


This tyrant flycatcher is found in savannah and other semi-open habitat with large trees.


It gets its name because it does not build its own nest, but appropriates the domed or enclosed nests of other, often far larger, bird species, such as Yellow-rumped Cacique or Crested Oropendola. Once the persistence of the flycatchers has driven the rightful owners away, their eggs are removed, and the female flycatcher lays up to four, but usually two, black-streaked brown eggs. She incubates these on her own for 16 days to hatching, with a further 18-20 days to fledging.

Feeding habits

Piratic Flycatchers wait on an exposed perch high in a tree, occasionally sallying out to feed on fruit, their staple diet. The young are fed on insects.


This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 11,000,000 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.
Piratic Flycatcher status Least Concern


Widespread south to northern Argentina and southern Brazil. Apparently absent from much of interior of Brazil, also found in Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico to Panama. Populations nesting in Middle America and Southern South America are migratory, but details as to exactly where they go are not known (presumably both populations move to north. and Amazonian South America). Present in Argentina and south Brazil about September-March.

Distribution map

Piratic Flycatcher range map


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