The Long-tailed Tyrant (Colonia colonus) is a species of passerine bird of the Tyrannidae family that lives in South and Central America. It is the only member of the genus Colonia.


The extensive genetic-molecular studies carried out by Tello et al. (2009) discovered a number of novel relationships within the Tyrannidae family that are not yet reflected in most classifications. Following these studies, Ohlson et al. (2013) proposed dividing Tyrannidae into five families. According to the proposed ordering, Colony remains in Tyrannidae, sedis mutabilis (that is, with slight uncertainty due to inconclusive data) in a subfamily Fluvicolinae Swainson, 1832-33, along with numerous other genera in the Fluvicolini, Contopini and Xolmiini tribes.

Original description

The species C. colonus was scientifically described for the first time by the French naturalist Louis Jean Pierre Vieillot in 1818 under the scientific name Muscicapa colonus; type locality «Paraguay».

The genus Colonia was described by the British zoologist John Edward Gray in 1828.

Regional Differences

Three subspecies are recognized, C. c. fuscicapillus, C. c. leuconata and C. c. poecilonote. The fuscicapillus subspecies is found in the eastern Andes of Colombia, and ssp. leuconata in the west of the country.


The feminine generic name «Colonia» originates from the name «colón» given by Félix de Azara to this species, and from the original name Muscicapa colonus; and the name of the species «colonus» comes from Latin: farmer, settler, rustic.


The long-tailed flycatcher is on average 13 cm long and weighs 15 g. The two central tail feathers are very long, reaching up to 10 to 12 cm in males and 5 to 9 cm in females. The white or gray crown and the white eye line and forehead contrast with the black plumage of the body. When flying you can see a white or grayish area in the center of the back, above the tail. In the female the belly is gray and the crown and the line of the back darker.


 It is found in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela.


Its natural habitats are tropical and subtropical rainforests, especially at the edges and clearings, and highly degraded ancient forests, in the treetops, at altitudes of less than 600 m.


It feeds on insects that it hunts in flight, starting from its perches in favorite trees which it rotates every two days.


The nest is a thick mattress built with the rachis of compound leaves, arranged over a hole left by woodpeckers at a height between 8-30 m above the ground in a tree or palm. Individuals in reproductive condition have been recorded between the months of January and May from the south of Bolívar to Córdoba. Also 1 nest in Alto Anchicayá in June; their eggs are white.


Usually stays in pairs, occasionally lonely. Perches conspicuous on a dead branch or trunk. It captures prey in the air at short to medium distances and invariably returns to the same perch. Confident, sedentary, rarely straying from his favorite perch.

Vocalization/ Voice