A displaying species, the male cock-tailed tyrant flaunts elongated tail feathers that fan out in a crescent. Males are mostly black above, with a grey rump and white between the top of the wings. There is a black patch on the sides of the breast and the tail is black. In strong contrast, the face and underparts are white. Females are similar to males, but are brown rather than black and have a normal-shaped, short tail (2).
Whilst normally insectivorous, a female cock-tailed tyrant has been seen feeding fruit to her two fledglings. Breeding occurs between September and October, coinciding with the start of the wet season. The cock-tailed tyrant is migratory in some areas (2).
Although it occupies a very large range, covering north and east Bolivia, south Brazil, east Paraguay and north Argentina, the cock-tailed tyrant is patchily distributed and scarce within this area (2).
The cock-tailed tyrant inhabits seasonally wet and dry grasslands, preferring areas with tall vegetation. It was thought to avoid freshly burnt areas, but has been seen feeding in them on several occasions (2).
As a permanent occupant of grasslands, the cock-tailed tyrant is threatened by habitat loss due to agricultural development, live-stock farming, plantations and mining throughout its range. As it relies upon tall grassland, it is particularly vulnerable to the effects of intensive livestock grazing, trampling and regular burning (2).
Found in Emas National Park, Gama-Cabeça de Veado Environmental Protection Area, Brasília National Park, Seera da Canastra National Park and Säo Miguel Wildlife Sanctuary in Brazil, as well as San Rafael National Park and Tapytá Private Nature Reserve in Paraguay, the cock-tailed should find some protection, although enforcement of the boundaries of protected areas is often poor. Surveys to determine the status of this species are necessary. In addition, controlling dry season burning and encouraging farmers to set aside areas of tall grass will help to halt the continuing decline of this species (2).
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