Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant

By Eleanor Warren-Thomas

Scientific Name: Lophotriccus pileatus

The scale-crested pygmy tyrant is a tropical forest bird. It likes to live in subtropical and tropical forests, both in the lowlands and in mountain areas. It also lives happily in forests where people have cut down a lot of the trees. It lives in lots of places across south and central America, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Panama, Peru, Venezuela, and also possibly Honduras. You can see a map of where it lives at

Now, you might already be familiar with this little guy, as he pops up a lot around That's because the scale crested pygmy tyrant is's mascot! You'll probably agree that it's a really lovely looking bird, but it's very tiny and hard to spot in the wild. This little bird only eats insects, and has a sharp beak to catch them. It lives in the darker, lower levels of the forest, and flies from branch to branch all day, searching for food. If you were in a forest looking for one, it would be very hard to see, but you would probably be able to hear its call as it flew through the trees.

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant . Photo by Rhett A. Butler
The scale-crested tyrant is listed as "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List, which is a scorecard of the extent to which animals and plants are endangered. This means that scientists aren't too worried about this bird, and it seems to be doing well. But, we must make sure this doesn't change in the future.

The bird in the picture above is being studied by scientists. They have put a small ring around its leg, so that if they catch it again, they know exactly which bird it is.

Scale-crested Pygmy-tyrant . Photo by Rhett A. Butler
The scale-crested pygmy tyrant gets its name from the lovely feathers on top of its head. In the picture above, the feathers are lifted up into a crest - it looks a bit like a headdress or a crown! It can also fold the feathers down when it doesn't need to show them off. The lovely head feathers (that look a bit like scales) might be used when the birds are trying to attract mates, or when they're frightened to make themselves look bigger.

Not much is known about how this lovely little bird lives, where it nests, or how many eggs it has. Perhaps, you could go and research it someday.


  • May I use graphics from for my projects? Yes, you may provided that you don't remove the mongabay label from the images. You may use information from the site for class projects and can cite mongabay as the source.
  • Is this web site credible? Mongabay is the world's most popular source for information on tropical forests. The site is highly acclaimed by a number of the world's leading tropical scientists. Mongabay Founder Rhett Butler has published several scientific papers.
  • Can I interview the founder of mongabay for my school project? Unfortunately Rhett is not available for interviews. However he has answered some common questions on the Rainforest Interview page.
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  • How can I help save rainforests? Some ideas are listed at Rainforest Solutions.
  • Where can I learn more about rainforests? Check the main rainforest site.