Strange-tailed tyrant (Alectrurus risora)

GenusAlectrurus (1)
SizeBody length: 20 cm (2)
Male total length: 30 cm (2)

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).

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).

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).

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

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).

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).

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).

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)