Tyrannus cubensis 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Aves Passeriformes Tyrannidae

Scientific Name: Tyrannus cubensis
Species Authority: Richmond, 1898
Common Name(s):
English Giant Kingbird, Cuban Flycatcher
Identification information: 23 cm. Large two-toned kingbird with massive bill. Grey above, white below and blackish crown and nape. Orange coronal strip normally concealed. Similar spp. Loggerhead Kingbird T. caudifasciatus is smaller (especially bill), darker crown and white tail-band. Eastern Kingbird T. tyrannus is slighter with much smaller bill, paler crown and white tail-band. Voice Loud harsh chatter and four-syllable call.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii,iv,v);C2a(i) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2012
Date Assessed: 2012-05-01
Assessor(s): BirdLife International
Reviewer(s): Butchart, S. & Symes, A.
Contributor(s): Hilton, G., Kirkconnell, A., Kirwan, G. & Mitchell, A.
Facilitator/Compiler(s): Isherwood, I., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Wege, D.
This species has declined rapidly for largely unknown reasons, and is extinct on two of the three island groups that it formerly occupied. It is classified as Endangered because it now has a very small and severely fragmented range and population, which continues to decline significantly.

Previously published Red List assessments:
2008 Endangered (EN)
2004 Endangered (EN)
2000 Endangered (EN)
1996 Endangered (EN)
1994 Endangered (EN)
1988 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: Tyrannus cubensis is endemic to Cuba where although always scarce it has become increasingly rare, for largely unknown reasons. It is now very locally distributed, and is most common (still few recent records) around Moa (Raffaele et al. 1998, Rompré et al. 2000). It is also known from the Sierra de Najasa (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998), with recent records from the mountains south-east of Moa (Rompré et al. 2000), near Trinidad in Sancti Spíritus province (G. M. Kirwan in litt. 1999) and near Caimito in La Habana province (Suárez 1998). There have been no recent records from historic localities in Pinar del Río province or the Zapata Swamp (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). There are old records from the south Bahamas and the Turks and Caicos Islands (to UK), but surveys of the larger uninhabited islands in the Turks and Caicos in 1999 failed to find the species, and it is presumed locally extinct (G. Hilton in litt. 1999).

Countries occurrence:
Regionally extinct:
Bahamas; Turks and Caicos Islands
Present - origin uncertain:
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 3200
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): Yes
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 11-100
Continuing decline in number of locations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in the number of locations: No
Upper elevation limit (metres): 400
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population is estimated to number 250-999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 375-1,499 individuals in total, rounded here to 350-1,500 individuals.

Trend Justification:  There are no recent trend data, but the species is suspected to be experiencing a moderately rapid and ongoing decline, owing to habitat loss.
Current Population Trend: Decreasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals: 250-999 Continuing decline of mature individuals: Yes
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: Yes
No. of subpopulations: 2-100 Continuing decline in subpopulations: Yes
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No
No. of individuals in largest subpopulation: 1-89

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Although sometimes recorded in woodland, especially pine forest, and even in low elevation (c.400 m) cloud-forest on serpentine soils (Rompré et al. 2000), this species prefers the ecotone between forested and open areas, such as grassland and swamps, as well as riparian forest and open forest with tall trees in montane areas (Regalado 2002). It feeds on large insects, lizards (especially Anolis spp) , other birds' fledglings and, during the dry season, significant quantities of fruit (Raffaele et al. 1998, Regalado 2002). Pair bonds are life-long and birds occupy large territories (mean size 27.5 ha) (Regalado 2002). The breeding season is March-June (A. Kirkconnell in litt. 1999), and the nest is usually sited on the horizontal branch of a large tree, usually Ceiba pentandra (Regalado 2002).

Systems: Terrestrial; Freshwater
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes
Generation Length (years): 4.2
Movement patterns: Not a Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The precise reasons for this species's decline are unclear, but habitat loss, and especially loss of large trees suitable for nesting, from logging and agricultural conversion is presumably at least a contributory factor.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Conservation Actions Underway
A project to discover more about its breeding ecology has been completed in the Sierra de Najasa and the results published (Regalado 2002).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to define the species's precise distribution, especially around Moa and at historic locations in Pinar del Río province (including the rarely-visited Guanahacabibes Peninsula) (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Continue the project in the Sierra de Najasa and make further efforts to better define its ecological requirements (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998). Protect remaining habitat wherever it still survives (A. Mitchell in litt. 1998).

Citation: BirdLife International. 2012. Tyrannus cubensis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2012: e.T22700516A39129474. . Downloaded on 25 November 2015.
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