Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Camptostoma imberbe

A standing joke among birders is that this bird's name is longer than the bird itself. This tiny flycatcher occurs in thickets and streamside woods near the Mexican border, where it is easily overlooked until one learns its piping calls. It perches upright and often flips its tail like an Empidonax flycatcher, but it may feed differently, moving along twigs to glean insects from the foliage. The name "Beardless" reflects the lack of bristles around the base of the bill (present in most of our flycatchers).
Conservation status May have declined with loss of streamside habitat in the southwest, but still locally common.
Family Tyrant Flycatchers
Habitat Low woods, mesquites, stream thickets, lower canyons. In United States, often in woods near streams through dry country. Favors stands of mesquite or cottonwood-willow groves in Arizona, native woodland of huisache, ebony, hackberry, and mesquite in southern Texas. In tropics found in a variety of semi-open habitats and dry woods.
A standing joke among birders is that this bird's name is longer than the bird itself. This tiny flycatcher occurs in thickets and streamside woods near the Mexican border, where it is easily overlooked until one learns its piping calls. It perches upright and often flips its tail like an Empidonax flycatcher, but it may feed differently, moving along twigs to glean insects from the foliage. The name "Beardless" reflects the lack of bristles around the base of the bill (present in most of our flycatchers).
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Especially in summer, often forages in typical flycatcher style, flying out from a perch to catch insects in its bill, taking them either in the air or from foliage. Often, however, forages more like a vireo, moving slowly and taking insects from surface of twigs or leaves.


Eggs

3, sometimes 1-2. White, finely marked with dots of brown and gray, especially around the larger end. Details of incubation poorly known. Young: Probably fed by both parents. Development of young and age at first flight not well known.


Young

Probably fed by both parents. Development of young and age at first flight not well known.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet not known in detail. Apparently feeds mostly on very small and slow-moving insects; known items include scale insects, treehoppers, beetle larvae, moth caterpillars, fly pupae, and others. Also reported to eat some seeds and berries.


Nesting

Nesting behavior is not well known. Male sings whistled song in spring and summer to defend nesting territory. Nest site is in outer branches of tree or large shrub, 4-50' above the ground, usually 10-30' up. Often placed where it will be well camouflaged: inside a clump of mistletoe, or in an old tent caterpillar web, in a tree that has many such clumps. Nest size and shape of a baseball, with an entrance high on one side; made of grasses and weeds, lined with soft plant down and feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Only a short-distance migrant. In Arizona more common in summer, but small numbers winter regularly at lower elevations. A few present at all seasons in southern Texas, perhaps more numerous in summer.

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Migration

Only a short-distance migrant. In Arizona more common in summer, but small numbers winter regularly at lower elevations. A few present at all seasons in southern Texas, perhaps more numerous in summer.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A thin tee-tee-tee-tee-tee, loudest in the middle. Also 3 long notes followed by a trill.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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