Wild Birds

Northern or Common Tufted Flycatcher

The Northern Tufted Flycatcher or Common Tufted Flycatchers (Mitrephanes phaeocercus) is a tyrant flycatcher family that is found in the highland areas from northwestern Mexico to northwestern Ecuador.

It is a rare visitor to the United States, where it has been observed in Big Bend National Park, Texas (November 1991) and also in Arizona.

It inhabits mature mountain forests and tall second growth – at possible elevations of 700–3000 m (~ 2,300-10,000 feet) – although they are most abundant from 1200–2150 m (4,000 – 7,000 ft).

They are usually seen in pairs, along forest edges and clearings with trees.


The Northern Tufted Flycatchers averages 12 cm (4.8 inches) in length and weighs 8.5 g (0.3 oz).

Its upper plumage (including its pointed crest) is olive-green.

The tail and wings are blackish. The wings have two buff bars and edging to the secondary flight feathers (shorter, upper “arm” feathers).

The chest is ochre-orange, shading to bright yellow on the abdomen.

Males and females look alike.

Immature birds have a brownish upper plumage with buff fringing. The plumage below is paler. Their wing bars are orange.

Breeding / Nesting

The female alone constructs a saucer nest using moss, liverworts, and lichens. It is usually situated 4 – 27 m (~13 – 88 feet) high on a branch or vine, often concealed among ferns, bromeliads, and other epiphytes.

The average clutch consists of two brown-blotched white eggs, which the female incubates for 15–16 days.

Diet / Feeding

Their main diet consists of insects typically hunted from an open perch. They often return to the same perch.

Calls / Vocalizations

The Tufted Flycatcher’s call has been described as a rapid weet weet weet weet, and its dawn song as a very fast high bip-bip-bip-dididiup-bip-bip-bibibiseer.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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