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Species Guide

Tawny-chested Flycatcher

Aphanotriccus capitalis

The Tawny-chested Flycatcher, also known as Salvin's Flycatcher, is a diminutive and vibrant member of the tyrant flycatcher family. This avian jewel measures a mere 12 cm in length and tips the scales at a lightweight 7 grams. Its appearance is reminiscent of the colorful Empidonax flycatchers, both in size and structure.

Identification Tips

Upon encountering this species, one is struck by its grey head, adorned with a white throat and distinctive white spectacles. The bird's upperparts are cloaked in olive-green, while its wings are a dusky hue, accented with two bright ochre wing bars and similarly colored edging on the secondary feathers. The breast radiates with an ochre-orange glow, transitioning to a bright yellow belly. Both sexes share a similar plumage, though females may exhibit a subtle olive tint on the grey head.


The Tawny-chested Flycatcher favors the mature evergreen forests and tall secondary growth. It thrives in the dense understory vegetation often found on the edges of woodlands, alongside streams, within natural clearings, or amidst cacao plantations.


This species' realm extends from the Caribbean lowlands to the foothills, reaching elevations up to 1000 meters. Its range spans from eastern Nicaragua to northern Costa Rica, though in Nicaragua, the bird is known only from historical specimens.


The Tawny-chested Flycatcher is typically observed either solitarily or in pairs. It exhibits a habitual foraging pattern, methodically searching for insects, with a particular fondness for beetles and ants. These are skillfully plucked from the underside of foliage mid-flight. The bird is also known to fan and close its tail in a display of nervous energy.

Song & Calls

Listeners are treated to a rapid and spirited "chee chee spt’t cheew" call, a distinctive auditory signature of this species.


The female takes on the task of nest construction, opting for natural cavities or abandoned woodpecker holes in trees or bamboo, with the nest site being up to 6 meters above ground. While the eggs of this species remain undescribed, it is typical for tyrant flycatchers to lay a clutch of two eggs. These are then incubated by the female for a period of 15 to 16 days until hatching.

Similar Species

Due to its unique coloration and size, the Tawny-chested Flycatcher is not easily confused with other species.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Tawny-chested Flycatcher consists predominantly of insects, with a preference for beetles and ants, which it captures in flight from the underside of leaves.

Conservation status

The Tawny-chested Flycatcher is currently classified as Vulnerable. Its limited range and aversion to forest fragmentation indicate a population in decline. The loss of habitat due to logging, conversion to banana plantations, and cattle-ranch expansion, especially in Costa Rica, has led to significant forest clearance and fragmentation. However, the species' habit of nesting in crevices may offer a glimmer of hope for its conservation, as the introduced Guadua bamboo, which supports banana trees on plantations, is widely planted and may provide suitable nesting sites.

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Tawny-chested Flycatchers on Birda

A map showing the sighting location
Profile picture for Carlos Ulate
Carlos Ulate
19 Mar 2023 - 8:28am
Costa Rica

More Tyrant Flycatchers, Calyptura

A photo of a Strange-tailed Tyrant (Alectrurus risora) , male

Strange-tailed Tyrant

Alectrurus risora
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