occurs (regularly, as a native taxon) in multiple nations
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Type of Residency: Breeding
Global Range: BREEDING: along Atlantic and Gulf coasts from South Carolina (at least formerly) south to Florida Keys, and west to southern Alabama and islands off Mississippi; throughout West Indies; sporadically in northern South America (islands off Venezuela, central llanos of Venezuela). NON-BREEDING: eastern Caribbean islands, Panama, northern Colombia, Venezuela (south to northwestern Amazonas), and Guianas.
Length: 23 cm
Weight: 44 grams
Habitat and Ecology
Comments: Open situations with scattered trees, most frequently in insular or coastal areas, including in mangroves and along beaches (AOU 1983), and pine plantations (Collazo and Bonilla 1988). Jamaica: low-lying open woodland, chiefly near cleared areas; locally in mangroves; abundant in open wooded cultivation at mid-levels and in mountains (Lack 1976). BREEDING: Nests in mangroves, and in pines and other trees; in towns in inland areas.
Non-Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species do not make significant seasonal migrations. Juvenile dispersal is not considered a migration.
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make local extended movements (generally less than 200 km) at particular times of the year (e.g., to breeding or wintering grounds, to hibernation sites).
Locally Migrant: Yes. At least some populations of this species make annual migrations of over 200 km.
Breeding populations in southeastern U.S. are migratory, arrive April-May. Resident population in Puerto Rico augmented by migrants from north and west in winter (Raffaele 1983). In Jamaica, arrives at end of March, departs in early October (Lack 1976).
Comments: Eats mainly large insects and small fruits (e.g., royal palm), also some seeds; flycatches and forages among foliage and on ground (Bent 1942, Wetmore 1916). Typicaaly hunts from perch 6-15 m above ground, takes insects usually in flight, often far from perch (Lack 1976).
Life History and Behavior
Clutch size 2-5 (usually 3).
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Tyrannus dominicensis
Below is the sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.
See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen.
Other sequences that do not yet meet barcode criteria may also be available.
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Download FASTA File
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Tyrannus dominicensis
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category
Red List Criteria
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N3B - Vulnerable
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
The gray kingbird, also known as Pitirre (Tyrannus dominicensis) is a passerine bird. It breeds from the extreme southeast of the United States, mainly in Florida, through Central America, from Cuba to Puerto Rico as well as eastward towards all across the Lesser West Indies, south to Venezuela, Trinidad, Tobago the Guiana and Colombia. Northern populations are migratory, wintering on the Caribbean coast of Central America and northern South America.
This tyrant flycatcher is found in tall trees and shrubs, including the edges of savanna and marshes. It makes a flimsy cup nest in a tree. The female incubates the typical clutch of two cream eggs, which are marked with reddish-brown.
The adult gray kingbird is an average-sized kingbird. It measures 23 cm (9.1 in) in length and weighs from 37 to 52 g (1.3 to 1.8 oz). The upperparts are gray, with brownish wings and tail, and the underparts are white with a gray tinge to the chest. The head has a concealed yellow crown stripe, and a dusky mask through the eyes. The dark bill is heavier than that of the related, slightly smaller, tropical kingbird. The sexes are similar, but young birds have rufous edges on the wing coverts, rump and tail.
The call is a loud rolling trill, pipiri pipiri, which is the reason behind many of its local names, like pestigre or pitirre, in the Spanish-speaking Greater Antilles, or petchary in some of the English-speaking zones.
Like other kingbirds, these birds aggressively defend their territory against intruders, including mammals and much larger birds such as caracaras and red-tailed hawks. This phenomenon has led to the widespread adoption of the pitirre as a nationalist symbol (a sort of David vs. Goliath figure) in Puerto Rico and for the Puerto Rican independence movement.
It is found in increasing numbers in the state of Florida, and is more often found inland though it had been previously restricted to the coast. The species was first described on the island of Hispaniola, then called Santo Domingo, thus the dominicensis name.
- BirdLife International (2012). "Tyrannus dominicensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
- CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B. Dunning Jr. (Editor). CRC Press (1992), ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5.
- Schwabacher, Martin; Otfinoski, Steven (2010). Puerto Rico. London, UK: Martin Cavendish Corporation. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-7614-4734-4.