Strange-tailed tyrant (Alectrurus risora)

Male strange-tailed tyrant
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Strange-tailed tyrant fact file

Strange-tailed tyrant description

GenusAlectrurus (1)

This striking flycatcher is suitably named after the extraordinarily elongated, black tail feathers of the male. The female, whilst not so dramatic, also has a long tail. The male has a black head, back and breast band, but white underparts. The throat is featherless, and turns bright pinkish-red during the breeding season. The female has a less obvious and paler breast band, and narrow brown stripes at the end of the tail feathers (2).

Body length: 20 cm (2)
Male total length: 30 cm (2)

Strange-tailed tyrant biology

Breeding occurs in the spring. Migration occurs seasonally in Argentina and Paraguay, but the strange-tailed tyrant appears to be resident throughout much of its range. It feeds on invertebrates (2).


Strange-tailed tyrant range

The strange-tailed tyrant occurs primarily in south Paraguay and north Argentina, as well as Brazil and Uruguay, where it has suffered a massive range contraction (2).


Strange-tailed tyrant habitat

Inhabits wet grasslands near or within marshes, and requires fairly tall grasses of between 1 and 1.5 metres for breeding (2).


Strange-tailed tyrant status

The strange-tailed tyrant is classified as Vulnerable (VU A2c + 3c) on the IUCN Red List 2004 (1) and is listed on Appendix I of CITES (3).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Strange-tailed tyrant threats

Remaining populations of strange-tailed tyrant are threatened by the conversion of land to agriculture and cattle-grazing. Afforestation with eucalyptus and pine is currently encouraged by government incentives and affects the quality of the strange-tailed tyrant’s habitat. Due to its preference for tall grasses, this species is intolerant of burning, pesticides and fertilisers, as they all alter the composition of grasslands (2).


Strange-tailed tyrant conservation

The strange-tailed tyrant is legally protected in Brazil and Uruguay and is recorded in El Palmar and Mburucuvá National Parks and El Bagual, Guaycolec and San Juan Poriahú Private Reserves in Argentina. The effects of different strange-tailed tyrant management regimes are being studied in Corrientes, Argentina, and the results will be used to develop an action plan for the species. Status surveys in Argentina and Paraguay will also help to identify the needs of the strange-tailed tyrant. A Biosphere Reserve is planned for the southern grasslands of Paraguay, but the removal of incentive for afforestation would be of more immediate benefit to this species (2).

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

Find out more

For further information on this species please see:



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:



  1. IUCN Red List (February, 2005)
  2. BirdLife International (February, 2005)
  3. CITES (February, 2005)

Image credit

Male strange-tailed tyrant  
Male strange-tailed tyrant

© Ron Hoff

Ron Hoff
United States of America


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