Bird GuideTyrant FlycatchersNorthern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet
Camptostoma imberbe

At a Glance

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).
Category
Perching Birds, Tyrant Flycatchers
Conservation
Low Concern
Habitat
Forests and Woodlands, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
Region
Southwest, Texas
Behavior
Flitter, Hovering
Population
2.000.000

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.

Description

4" (10 cm). Suggests an Empidonax flycatcher but even smaller, with bushy-headed look, thin stubby bill. Has slight dark line through eye but no obvious eye-ring; vague wing-bars. Often bobs tail up and down.
Size
About the size of a Sparrow
Color
Black, Gray, Green, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Rounded
Tail Shape
Notched, Rounded, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

A thin tee-tee-tee-tee-tee, loudest in the middle. Also 3 long notes followed by a trill.
Call Pattern
Falling, Flat
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Hi, Whistle

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.

Behavior

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.

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.

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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

May have declined with loss of streamside habitat in the southwest, but still locally common.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Northern Beardless-Tyrannulet

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.