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Great Kiskadee

From Opus

Revision as of 20:05, 27 December 2015 by Deliatodd-18346 (Talk | contribs)
Photograph: ReiniLaguna del Lagarto Lodge, Costa Rica, February 2005
Photograph: Reini
Laguna del Lagarto Lodge, Costa Rica, February 2005
Pitangus sulphuratus



It's about 10 1/2" (27 cm) size.
A stocky flycatcher with relatively broad black bill, black-and-white striped head, olive-brown back, bright yellow underparts and rufous wings. Its tail conspicuous in flight. Generally also has a yellow crown.

Similar species

Easily mistaken with the Boat-billed Flycatcher (Megarynchus pitangua), due to size and colours. They are separated by:

  • Bill, which is much broader and with a strongly curved culmen in the Boat-billed Flycatcher.
  • Wings, which are rufous in Great Kiskadee (see photo) and olive in Boat-billed Flycatcher (careful; juv. Boat-billed with rufescent to wings).

Can be mistaken for the smaller-sized similar coloured flycatcher as well, e.g. Rusty-margined (Myiozetetes cayanensis) and Social Flycatchers (Myiozetetes similis) and Lesser Kiskadee (Philohydor lictor), but they are separated by size and their noticeably slimmer and/or shorter bills.

Photo by BairesBuenos Aires, Argentina, January 2005
Photo by Baires
Buenos Aires, Argentina, January 2005


Very common and widespread throughout Latin America. In North America, occurs in extreme southern Texas and eastern and western Mexico. Occurs throughout Central America. In South America, it is absent only from the Pacific coast, the highest Andean regions and in far south.


Was initially thought to be shrike of the genus Lanius, but this idea was discarded many decades ago.


There are 10 supspecies recognised[1]:

  • P. s. texanus: Souther Texas (Rio Grande Valley) to south-eastern Mexico (Veracruz)
  • P. s. derbianus: Arid western Mexico (southern Sonora to Isthmus of Tehuántepec)
  • P. s. guatimalensis: South-eastern Mexico (Nuevo León) to central Panama
  • P. s. trinitatis: Extreme eastern Colombia to eastern Venezuela and north-western Brazil; Trinidad
  • P. s. caucensis: Western and southern Colombia (south-western Bolívar, Cauca and Magdalena valleys)
  • P. s. rufipennis: Coastal northern Colombia and northern Venezuela
  • P. s. sulphuratus: Tropical south-eastern Colombia to south-eastern Peru, the Guianas and northern Brazil
  • P. s. maximiliani: Amazonian Brazil to eastern Bolivia and chaco of Paraguay
  • P. s. bolivianus: Highlands of eastern Bolivia (Cochabamba to Tarija)
  • P. s. argentinus: Extreme south-eastern Brazil to eastern Paraguay, Uruguay and central Argentina


Rivers, streams, and lakes bordered with dense vegetation; also in more open country and in parks in most of its range. Very adaptable to human life in cities.


This bird has a noticeably aggressive behaviour, pursuing and attacking bigger birds or even snakes.


Its diet is omnivorous, consisting of, in addition to insects, small fruits and seeds and even fish, diving straight into the water like a kingfisher, although not as deeply.


Loud, piercing kis-ka-dee, hence its English name. Also makes an incessant, shrill chattering.

In several other languages, it is called "bem-te-vi" or "bentevi", also because of its call.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2013. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.8., with updates to August 2013. Downloaded from
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2014)
  3. BF Member observations

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