Conservation status In Arizona, may have increased slightly since 1950s, but still very scarce and local. Widespread and common in Mexico and Central America.
Family Becards, Tityras and allies
Habitat Wooded canyons, river groves, sycamores. In Arizona, usually along streams at middle elevations, especially in groves of sycamores and cottonwoods; sometimes in pure cottonwood groves with understory of mesquites. In Texas, generally in native woodland near Rio Grande. In Mexico and Central America, widespread in dry woods, canyons, locally up into mountain forest.
This tropical bird barely extends north of the Mexican border in summer. In our area it occurs regularly only along a few streams in southern Arizona. It is also found in southern Texas, especially in winter. Quiet and inconspicuous, it is easily overlooked as it perches high within the canopy of the trees, occasionally fluttering out to pick an insect from the foliage. Its massive, football-shaped nest, swinging at the end of a dangling branch, is often the first clue that becards are present.

Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by watching from a perch, then making short flights out to capture insects, returning to perch to eat them. Takes most insects from foliage while hovering briefly; also catches some in mid-air. Does much of its foraging within the shady canopy of tall trees.


4-6. Whitish to buff, heavily blotched with brown. Incubation is by female; incubation period not well known. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 3 weeks after hatching.


Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 3 weeks after hatching.


Includes insects and berries. Diet not well known. In summer in United States, probably feeds mostly on insects. Also known to eat many small fruits and berries, perhaps especially in southern parts of range.


Male defends nesting territory by singing. Has a thin, rhythmic "dawn song," usually heard only before sunrise. Nest: Usually suspended at the end of a long hanging branch, under the shady canopy of a large tree (sycamore or cottonwood in Arizona), up to 50' above the ground. Nest (built mostly by female, with some help from male) is a very large globular mass of vegetation, with the entrance low on one side; made of bark strips, grass, weeds, vines, spiderwebs, and other materials. More material may be added even after incubation begins.

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

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In Arizona, generally arrives in May and leaves in September. Probably permanent resident over most of its range. May wander into southern Texas at any season.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon

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Songs and Calls

A high-pitched whistle, seeeeooo; various chattering notes.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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