email a friend
printable version
EN
Giant Kingbird Tyrannus cubensis
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

Justification
This species has declined rapidly for largely unknown reasons, and is extinct on two of the three island groups that it formerly occupied. It is classified as Endangered because it now has a very small and severely fragmented range and population, which continues to decline significantly.

Taxonomic source(s)
AOU. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C.
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

Identification
23 cm. Large two-toned kingbird with massive bill. Grey above, white below and blackish crown and nape. Orange coronal strip normally concealed. Similar spp. Loggerhead Kingbird T. caudifasciatus is smaller (especially bill), darker crown and white tail-band. Eastern Kingbird T. tyrannus is slighter with much smaller bill, paler crown and white tail-band. Voice Loud harsh chatter and four-syllable call.

Distribution and population
Tyrannus cubensis is endemic to Cuba where although always scarce it has become increasingly rare, for largely unknown reasons. It is now very locally distributed, and is most common (still few recent records) around Moa (Raffaele et al. 1998, Rompré et al. 2000). It is also known from the Sierra de Najasa (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), with recent records from the mountains south-east of Moa (Rompré et al. 2000), near Trinidad in Sancti Spíritus province (G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1999) and near Caimito in La Habana province (Suárez 1998). There have been no recent records from historic localities in Pinar del Río province or the Zapata Swamp (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). There are old records from the south Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK), but surveys of the larger uninhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos in 1999 failed to find the species, and it is presumed locally extinct (G. Hilton in litt. 1999).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend justification
There are no recent trend data, but the species is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid and ongoing decline, owing to habitat loss.

Ecology
Although sometimes recorded in woodland, especially pine forest, and even in low elevation (c.400 m) cloud-forest on serpentine soils (Rompré et al. 2000), this species prefers the ecotone between forested and open areas, such as grassland and swamps, as well as riparian forest and open forest with tall trees in montane areas (Regalado 2002). It feeds on large insects, lizards (especially Anolis spp) , other birds' fledglings and, during the dry season, significant quantities of fruit (Raffaele et al. 1998, Regalado 2002). Pair bonds are life-long and birds occupy large territories (mean size 27.5 ha) (Regalado 2002). The breeding season is March-June (A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999), and the nest is usually sited on the horizontal branch of a large tree, usually Ceiba pentandra (Regalado 2002).

Threats
The precise reasons for this species's decline are unclear, but habitat loss, and especially loss of large trees suitable for nesting, from logging and agricultural conversion is presumably at least a contributory factor.

Conservation Actions Underway
A project to discover more about its breeding ecology has been completed in the Sierra de Najasa and the results published (Regalado 2002). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to define the species's precise distribution, especially around Moa and at historic locations in Pinar del Río province (including the rarely-visited Guanahacabibes Peninsula) (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Continue the project in the Sierra de Najasa and make further efforts to better define its ecological requirements (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Protect remaining habitat wherever it still survives (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998).

References
Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Raffaele, H.; Wiley, J.; Garrido, O.; Keith, A.; Raffaele, J. 1998. Birds of the West Indies. Christopher Helm, London.

Rompré, G.; Aubry, Y.; Kirkconnell, A. 2000. Recent observations of threatened birds in eastern Cuba. Cotinga 13: 66.

Suárez, W. 1998. Nueva localidad para la distribución del Pitirre Real Tyrannus cubensis (Aves: Tyrannidae) en Cuba. Pitirre 11: 11.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.

Contributors
Hilton, G., Kirkconnell, A., Kirwan, G., Mitchell, A.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Tyrannus cubensis. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/11/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 27/11/2014.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Giant kingbird (Tyrannus cubensis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Tyrannidae (Tyrant-flycatchers)
Species name author Richmond, 1898
Population size 250-999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 3,200 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species