Great Kiskadee

Pitangus sulphuratus
Range Map

Only in south Texas do we find Great Kiskadees in the USA. Their range extends widely to the south, stretching all the way to the southern South America. These bold and vocal birds are conspicuous wherever they roam, and their loud kiss-ka-dee calls resound whenever they are nearby.

These birds are omnivorous, and observers believe both parents share the duties of feeding and caring for their young. Great Kiskadees are one of the largest of all flycatchers, and both parents will aggressively defend their nesting territory from intruders much larger than themselves.

Modern science divides the Great Kiskadee into ten subspecies.

  • P. s. texanus lives in southern Texas and south to eastern Mexico.
  • P. s. derbianus lives in western Mexico.
  • P. s. guatimalensis lives in southeastern Mexico south to central Panama.
  • P. s. rufipennis lives in northern Colombia and northern Venezuela.
  • P. s. caucensis lives in western and southern Colombia.
  • P. s. trinitatis lives in eastern Colombia, southeastern Venezuela, northwestern Brazil, and Trinidad.
  • P. s. sulphuratus lives in the Guianas and northwestern and central Amazonian Brazil, southeastern Colombia and eastern Ecuador to southeastern Peru.
  • P. s. maximiliani lives in northeastern Bolivia and west-central Paraguay to eastern and southern Brazil.
  • P. s. bolivianus lives in central Bolivia.
  • P. s. argentinus lives in eastern Paraguay, southeastern Brazil, Uruguay and south to central Argentina.

During my first expedition into Texas early in March 2020, I met kiskadees almost as soon as I crossed into their territorial range in Del Rio. They continued to entertain and to keep me company the entire time I was in southern Texas. I returned to the region in 2021 and 2022, and even though that ‘brand new’ feeling for these iconic south Texas natives had passed, I still could not resist spending time with them.

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