tyrant flycatcher


tyrant flycatcher
flycatcher (def. 2).
[1775-85]

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bird
also called  New World Flycatcher,  
 any of about 367 species of aggressive, insect-eating New World birds of the family Tyrannidae (order Passeriformes). About one-third of the species are not flycatcher-like in habit and bear names derived from their habitats (e.g., bush tyrant, marsh tyrant) or from their similarity to the songbird groups (tit-tyrant, shrike-tyrant). A few are named for their bill shape (spade bill, flat bill, bent bill). Many have common names not suggestive of their appearance (e.g., phoebe, pewee, kingbird).

      Tyrant flycatchers range in size from 7.5 to 40.5 cm (3 to 16 inches) long, some species having greatly elongated tail feathers. Most tyrannids are plain coloured, in shades of gray, brown, or olive above and tan, white, or yellow below; a few are strikingly patterned in black and white. Many have a patch of red or yellow on the crown (often concealed, but erectile, nevertheless). In all but a few, the sexes are marked alike. A notable exception is species Pyrocephalus rubinus, found from the southwestern United States to Argentina, the male of which is fiery red with dark wings and back.

      The more arboreal tyrant flycatchers have weak legs and feet and hold themselves upright when perched. Like the Old World flycatchers of the family Muscicapidae, the fly-catching tyrannids dart from a perch to seize insects on the wing. The bills of such forms of flycatcher are broad, flattened, and slightly hooked, with bristles at the base that appear to serve as aids in insect capture. The shrike-tyrants (Agriornis) of southern South America take prey as large as mice and small frogs. A number of tyrannids, especially the elaenias, feed extensively on berries and other fruit.

      Most tyrant flycatchers have rather simple songs that are often squeaking or grating sounds or monotonous whistles; a few, such as the pewees (pewee) (Contopus), have melodious songs.

      Nearly all tyrannids are territorial during the breeding season. Many, especially the kingbird, attack or harass any large bird, such as a crow or hawk, that enters its territory. Exposed nests include open cups, domed structures, and hanging bags; some species nest in holes. There are no brood parasites, but at least one species habitually usurps the nests of other birds, usually those of oropendolas, which build hanging nests.

      The family Tyrannidae is best represented in Central and South America, but about 30 species breed in North America. The nearest relatives are the manakins (Pipridae) and cotingas (Cotingidae); the boundaries of the three families are so poorly defined that the family allocations of a number of genera are controversial.

      Other members of the tyrant flycatcher group are known by the names attila, elaenia, flatbill, kingbird, kiskadee, pewee, phoebe, spadebill, and tyrannulet. Compare flycatcher.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Tyrant flycatcher — Tyrant Tyr ant (t[imac] rant), n. [OE. tirant, tiraunt, tyraunt, OF. tiran, tirant (probably from confusion with the p. pr. of verbs), F. tyran, L. tyrannus, Gr. ty rannos, originally, an absolute sovereign, but afterwards, a severe or cruel… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • tyrant flycatcher — n. any of a family (Tyrannidae) of American flycatchers, including the pewee, phoebe, and kingbird …   English World dictionary

  • Tyrant flycatcher — Taxobox name = Tyrant flycatchers image width = 240px image caption = Scissor tailed Flycatcher Tyrannus forficatus regnum = Animalia phylum = Chordata classis = Aves ordo = Passeriformes subordo = Tyranni familia = Tyrannidae familia authority …   Wikipedia

  • tyrant flycatcher — noun large American birds that characteristically catch insects on the wing • Syn: ↑New World flycatcher, ↑flycatcher, ↑tyrant bird • Hypernyms: ↑tyrannid • Hyponyms: ↑kingbird, ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • tyrant flycatcher — /taɪrənt ˈflaɪkætʃə/ (say tuyruhnt fluykachuh) noun any of various birds of the family Tyrannidae, as the ochre bellied flycatcher, Mionectes oleagineus, of the Americas; tyrant …   Australian English dictionary

  • tyrant flycatcher — noun a flycatcher of a large family (Tyrannidae) including all American species. Origin C18: so named because of their aggressive behaviour towards other birds …   English new terms dictionary

  • tyrant flycatcher — ty′rant fly′catcher n. orn flycatcher 1) • Etymology: 1775–85 …   From formal English to slang

  • tyrant flycatcher — noun Date: circa 1783 any of a large family (Tyrannidae) of American flycatchers that are usually strictly insectivorous and have a flattened bill often hooked at the tip and usually bristly at the gape …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • tyrant flycatcher — noun any of a group of passerine birds, of family Tyrannidae, that inhabit the Americas …   Wiktionary

  • Tyrant — Tyr ant (t[imac] rant), n. [OE. tirant, tiraunt, tyraunt, OF. tiran, tirant (probably from confusion with the p. pr. of verbs), F. tyran, L. tyrannus, Gr. ty rannos, originally, an absolute sovereign, but afterwards, a severe or cruel ruler.] 1.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English


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