King tyrant

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King tyrant
A royal tyrant

A royal tyrant

Subordination : Screeching Birds (Tyranni)
Family : Tyrants (Tyrannidae)
Subfamily : Tyranninae
Tribe : Tyrannins
Genre : Tyrannus
Type : King tyrant
Scientific name
Tyrannus tyrannus
( Linnaeus , 1758)

The king's tyrant ( Tyrannus tyrannus ) is an approx. 20 cm tall and very aggressive species of bird from the family of tyrants (Tyrannidae).


The royal tyrant is one of the greatest tyrants with a length of 20-23 cm. Its head and top are black. The throat and tail end are white, while the chest is white-gray in color. When it ruffles its crown feathers, the red, elongated spot becomes visible. Dark, thick hair can be seen at the base of the broad and flat beak.


The distribution area of ​​the royal tyrant
Green: distribution in summer.
Dark gray: overwintering

The royal tyrant lives in the wooded areas , prairies and also in the gardens and parks of large cities across the breadth of the North American continent from southern Canada to Florida . In the southwest, its habitat extends to Texas and New Mexico . In autumn, it moves in large swarms to southern Mexico and northwestern South America to overwinter there. In the wintering areas the birds are very peaceful and live in communities of several thousand birds.

Way of life

A royal tyrant with contrasting plumage

The royal tyrant does not bear his name for nothing. Even the Indians call him “Little Chief” because of his aggressiveness and courage . It even attacks much larger birds of prey and drives ravens to flight with claws and bills, but paradoxically it leaves swallows in peace even in their breeding grounds. You can often see him sitting on barbed wire fences .


Museum Wiesbaden collection

The breeding season of the royal tyrant begins in the spring immediately after returning from the wintering areas. The males fiercely fight for control of the territories. As soon as a territory owner has found a suitable female, he mates on the fly for his desired partner and sets up his crown feathers.

The nest is built by both partners, usually on a branch. To do this, they process twigs, leaves, grass and bark. The male lays the hollow with feathers and soft grass before the female lays 3–4 white or pink eggs with dark red or brown spots. The incubation period is 16–20 days; the nestling duration another 14-21 days.


The diet of the royal tyrant consists mainly of insects such as flies , grasshoppers or crickets , but also spiders and bees . They are apparently immune to bee stings. They also eat fruit, especially in autumn. Their main prey, insects, are spotted from the raised hide and caught in a flash.

Web links

Commons : Königstyrann ( Tyrannus tyrannus )  - Collection of images, videos and audio files