Great kiskadee

Pitangus sulphuratus

SUBFAMILY

Tyranninae

TAXONOMY

Lanius sulphuratus Linnaeus, 1766, Cayenne. Monotypic. OTHER COMMON NAMES

English: Kiskadee flycatcher; French: Tyran quiquivi; German: Bentevi; Spanish: Benteveo Común.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

9.8 in (25 cm). Plumage includes white forehead and eyebrows, black crown, wide black eye line, brown back and rump, reddish brown wings and tail, bright yellow crissum, yellow underparts, and white cheeks, chin, and throat. Bill is black and stout; legs and feet are also black. Underwings are yellow, and in flight, the yellow of the underwings and belly contrast with the reddish brown of the overwings and tail. A yellow crown patch is usually concealed. Sexes are similar.

DISTRIBUTION

Common in the tropics of Central and South America. Common in southwest Texas; casual in coastal Louisiana, southeast Arizona, southeast New Mexico, southeast Texas, western Oklahoma. Introduced and established on Bermuda.

HABITAT

Wet woodlands, open areas with scattered trees, forest edges, scrub vegetation, bushes, and lakes and rivers.

BEHAVIOR

The great kiskadee gets its name from its call, a loud, slow, screaming "kiss-ka-dee!" or "k-reah!" It is energetic, noisy, and aggressively territorial, chasing away much larger birds from its nesting area. Lives solitary or in pairs. It is easily spotted, drying its feathers on an open, conspicuous perch after diving for aquatic prey. Nonmigratory.

FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET

Sits on perch to watch for prey that includes aquatic insects, small fish, frogs, tadpoles, baby birds, lizards, mice, and both crawling and flying insects. Returns to perch to eat. It often beats larger prey against a branch before swallowing. Takes fruits and berries when other food is unavailable.

REPRODUCTIVE BIOLOGY

Breeds monogamously, two to three clutches of two to five eggs per year. Nests are spherical, built by both sexes in thorny trees, palm trees, or on braces of utility poles. Female incubates eggs an estimated 13 to 15 days, and young fledge at 12 to 21 days. Young are fed by both parents.

CONSERVATION STATUS

Some in the United States have declined due to habitat loss caused by deforestation and development. The species is still common in the Central and South American tropics.

SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦

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