Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

The Great Kiskadee is a very common bird in most of Costa Rica’s territory; many people can identify it based on its plumage or song, and indeed they can be very noisy. In particular, groups of up to five individuals may perch in branches while rapidly agitating their wings and calling each other with a high-pitched “Kiskadee” song, from where the English name is taken. My grandfather used to say that he would knew when I was coming, because this bird would start to call “Christopher, Christopher”. Of course I believed him, until I was old enough 🙂

Locally it is known as “Pecho Amarillo”, though some people call that name to the also common Tropical Kingbird. There are a few species that are very similar to the Great Kiskadee, like the Social Flycatcher and the Boat-billed Flycathcer, but they can be differentiated by size, song or range.

A very common and noisy species under the rain. These bold birds will fight with hawks and toucans in flight, defending their eggs or chicks from predators.
An individual perched on a small branch, waiting for its chance to seize fruit from the feeder. The toucans were first, so better to wait a little bit.
A unusual sight is to have both a Great Kiskadee and a Black-cheeked Woodpecker perched on the exact same branch. Seems like a truce taking place before going back into battle for the fruit.
Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus - Pecho Amarillo (2)
It is pretty big when compared with other Flycatchers. They like to catch insects in midair, but also come to fruit feeders.
Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus - Pecho Amarillo (4)
A Great Kiskadee under light rain. They like to perch in fence posts and tree trunks.
Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus - Pecho Amarillo (5)
Another Great Kiskadee, now on a fence post made of a tree trunk.
Great Kiskadee - Pitangus sulphuratus - Pecho Amarillo
The rufous on the wings is the most clear way to differentiate from the very similar Boat-billed Flycatcher, which is even identically sized.

2 thoughts on “Great Kiskadee (Pitangus sulphuratus)

  1. Pingback: Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) | The Nature Admirer

  2. Pingback: Gray-capped Flycatcher (Myiozetetes granadensis) | The Nature Admirer

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