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Mount St. Benedict

Photo courtesy Stuart Elsom

Piratic Flycatcher

The upperparts are brown while the underparts are a dull white. The breast is lightly streaked with brown. The wings are narrowly edged with white. There is long white eyebrow and white malar. There is a concealed yellow crown patch. The bill is short and broad. Both sexes are alike and the length is approximately 6 inches (15cm) with a weight of 23 grams.

This bird is similar to the Variegated Flycatcher but smaller and does not have the rufous edging seen on the tail and primaries of the Variegated Flycatcher. Plus the tail is shorter.

This species gets its name from its habit of "pirating" the domed or pendant nests of others (oropendolas, orioles, caciques). They harass the builders of the nest into abondoning the nests by constantly entering the nests. Once the nests have been abandoned they remove the eggs and use the nests for their own breeding.  They defend these nests against other birds and in cacique colonies they will evict the occupants of surrounding nests to create a defense zone around their nest.

A resident of Trinidad and visitor to Tobago, they are found in forest clearings and edges and cultivated areas with shade trees. They generally perch in the open , spending much of the day singing. They feed mainly on fruits which they eat quickly and then return to their singing perch. According to Morton, the Piratic Flycatcher can feed very fast because it eats unripened fruit. They also prey on insects, mainly dragonflies, waiting on exposed tree limbs till they notice prey, then flying out to attack.  They feed insects to their young.

Family - Flycatchers

Other Name - Black-banded Petchary

Latin Name - Legatus leucophaius

Range - From Mexico south to Argentina including Trinidad


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Photo courtesy Stuart Elsom



MacChesney, K. 2002. "Legatus leucophaius" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. at

Eugene S. Morton, 1977. Intratropical Migration in the Yellow-Green Vireo and Piractic Flycatcher.   Auk, Vol. 94, 97 - 106.

Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

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Last modified: February 16, 2008