Gray Kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis)

Gray Kingbird


The gray kingbird or grey kingbird, also known as pitirre, petchary, or white-breasted kingbird (Tyrannus dominicensis) is a passerine bird. The adult gray kingbird is an average-sized kingbird. It measures 23 cm (9.1 in) in length and weighs from 37 to 52 g (1.3 to 1.8 oz). The upperparts are gray, with brownish wings and tail, and the underparts are white with a gray tinge to the chest. The head has a concealed yellow crown stripe, and a dusky mask through the eyes. The dark bill is heavier than that of the related, slightly smaller, tropical kingbird. The sexes are similar, but young birds have rufous edges on the wing coverts, rump and tail.


Gray kingbirds wait on an exposed perch high in a tree, occasionally sallying out to feed on insects, their staple diet.


The call is a loud rolling trill, pipiri pipiri, which is the reason behind many of its local names, like pestigre or pitirre, in the Spanish-speaking Greater Antilles, or petchary in some of the English-speaking zones.

Distribution And Habitat

The Gray Kingbird is one of the most conspicuous and common resident bird species throughout the West Indies (Raffaele and others 1998), including Puerto Rico (Oberle 2018), Culebra, and Vieques (Gemmill 2015). It occurs on all the islands of the Puerto Rican archipelago (Ventosa-Febles and others 2005) in open country, parks, forest edges, and urban areas (Oberle 2018). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 1,304 records within 436 hexagons or 91 percent of the 479 total hexagons (see map). Of the 436 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 73 percent (320) of the hexagons, probable in 18 percent (80), and possible in 8 percent (36) (see map). Gray Kingbird distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.

Gray Kingbird Distribution

Breeding Habits

The Gray Kingbird builds an open nest made of twigs in trees, shrubs, or human- made structures from April to June, according to previously published reports (Raffaele and others 1998). Atlas results indicate that the Gray Kingbirds breeding occurs throughout the year, but the most activity takes 209Gray Kingbird/Pitirreplace during May and June (see chart). Atlas findings show that the Gray Kingbird mostly breeds within the subtropical moist forest life zone (59 percent of the hexagons) but also within the subtropical dry and subtropical wet forest life zones (22 and 19 percent of the hexagons, respectively), while breeding activity has also been reported for one hexagon within the subtropical rain forest life zone (see table and map).


The Gray Kingbird population is stable across its distribution range, and it is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species is not listed in any of the threatened categories of PRDNER and USFWS. In Puerto Rico, the Gray Kingbird has a protected habitat in land of 12 percent or 1253 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (10 403 km2). (Note: the total area is larger than the islands area as hexagons in the coastline and cays are not cropped for this analysis).