Neotropical Birds logo
Version 1.0

This is a historic version of this account.  Current version


Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus

Alex. E. Jahn, Philip C. Stouffer, and R. Terry Chesser
Version: 1.0 — Published April 5, 2013


Welcome to Birds of the World!

You are currently viewing one of the free accounts available in our complimentary tour of Birds of the World. In this courtesy review, you can access all the life history articles and the multimedia galleries associated with this account.

For complete access to all accounts, a subscription is required.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Sign in


Breeding by Tropical Kingbirds is reported in mid-March in Costa Rica and mid-April in Honduras (Skutch 1954), from late April to mid-June in Belize (Russell 1964), from March to June in Costa Rica (Skutch 1954), from February to early September in Panama (Willis and Eisenmann 1979), from January to August in Trinidad (Roberts 1934, Herklots 1961, ffrench 1973) and from June to December in Aruba and Bonaire (Voous 1983), March to May in Venezuela (Cherrie 1916, Ramo and Busto 1984), in February in Guyana (Young 1925), in October in Ecuador (Skutch 1954), from September to March in Amazonian Brazil Amazon (Oniki and Willis 1983a,b), in April and May in Colombia (Allen 1905, Todd and Carriker 1922), from October to December in Bolivia (Jahn et al. 2010b), and November to January in Argentina (de la Peña 1987, AEJ, personal observation).

The nest is built by the female (AEJ personal observations), with material that includes large pieces of dead herbaceous vines, rootlets and root stems, fine woody twigs, weed stems, and dry grasses (Stouffer and Chesser 1998). The clutch is 2 to 4 blotched, slightly glossy whitish, pale buff, or pale pink eggs (Stouffer and Chesser 1998). Clutch size varies depending on the breeding location, with clutches of 2 or 3 in Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Costa Rica, Trinidad, and Tobago. In Argentina, Guatemala, and Mexico, clutch size is 2 to 4 (Allen 1905, Hudson 1920 in Skutch 1954, Pereyra 1937, Rowley 1966, 1984, ffrench 1973, Cruz and Andrews 1989). Lays 1–3 eggs in northeastern Bolivia (F. Hilarion and AEJ, unpublished data). Incubation is by the female and lasts from 15 to 16 days (Skutch 1954, ffrench 1973, Oniki and Willis 1983a). The male usually remains near nest, sometimes moving closer to the nest when the female leaves the area to forage (Stouffer and Chesser 1998). The incubation time for six nests that were monitored in northeastern Bolivia was 15 days (range: 12 to 19 days; F. Hilarion and AEJ, unpublished data). The nestling period here lasted 13 to 20 days (F. Hilarion and AEJ, unpublished data). Both parents feed the nestlings (AEJ personal observations). Nests of Tropical Kingbird sometimes are parasitized by Shiny Cowbird (Molothrus bonariensis; Friedmann et al. 1977, Friedmann and Kiff 1985, AEJ personal observations); "despite its pugnacity, this tyrant is parasitized quite often" (Friedmann and Kiff 1985).

Recommended Citation

Jahn, A. E., P. C. Stouffer, and R. T. Chesser (2013). Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/nb.trokin.01