Cock-tailed tyrant -- 鸡尾霸鹟 (Alectrurus tricolor)

Male cock-tailed tyrant
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Cock-tailed tyrant fact file

Cock-tailed tyrant description

GenusAlectrurus (1)

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).

Length: 12 cm (2)
Male length including tail: 18 cm (2)

Cock-tailed tyrant biology

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).


Cock-tailed tyrant range

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).


Cock-tailed tyrant habitat

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).


Cock-tailed tyrant status

The cock-tailed tyrant is classified as Vulnerable (VU A2c +3c) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Cock-tailed tyrant threats

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).


Cock-tailed tyrant conservation

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).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.


This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

Image credit

Male cock-tailed tyrant  
Male cock-tailed tyrant

© Sávio Bruno

Savio Freire Bruno


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