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Revision as of 05:52, 30 June 2023 by THEFERN-13145 (talk | contribs) (→‎Identification)
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Photo © by Rogerio Araújo Dias
Brasilia, Brazil
Piaya cayana


43-46cm (17-18 in)

  • upperparts and head chestnut (paler on the throat)
  • lower breast grey
  • belly black
  • uppertail white-tipped chestnut
  • undertail black and white banded due to broad white tail feather tips
  • bill and bare eyering are yellow
  • iris red

Immature birds: grey bill and eyering, brown iris, and less white in the tail.


Photo © by Jim Crosswell
Finca Oro, Costa Rica, January 2009

Central and South America
Central America: Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Trinidad
South America: Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, French Guiana, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina



Subspecies P. c. nigricrissa
Photo © by Stanley Jones
San Martin, Peru, January 2017

Fourteen subspecies share the rather large range[1]:

  • P. c. mexicana: Pacific slope of Mexico (Sinaloa to Isthmus of Tehuántepec)
  • P. c. thermophila: Eastern Mexico to eastern Panama, north-western Colombia and offshore islands
  • P. c. nigricrissa: Western Colombia and western Ecuador to central Peru
  • P. c. mehleri: North-eastern Colombia and coastal northern Venezuela east to Paría Peninsula
  • P. c. mesura: Colombia east of the Andes and eastern Ecuador
  • P. c. circe: Western Venezuela (region south of Lake Maracaibo)
  • P. c. cayana: Orinoco Valley of Venezuela to the Guianas and northern Brazil
  • P. c. insulana: Trinidad
  • P. c. obscura: Brazil south of the Amazon (Rio Juruá to Rio Tapajós)
  • P. c. hellmayri: Brazil south of the Amazon (Santarém to Amazon delta)
  • P. c. pallescens: Eastern Brazil (Piauí, Pernambuco, northern Bahia and adjacent eastern Goiás)
  • P. c. cabanisi: South-central Brazil (central Mato Grosso and adjacent Goiás)
  • P. c. macroura: South-eastern Brazil to Paraguay, Uruguay and north-eastern Argentina
  • P. c. mogenseni: Southern Bolivia and adjacent north-western Argentina


Open types of forest and woodland, canopy and edges, second growth, hedges and semi-open habitats.


It gets its English name from its squirrel-like way of running along tree branches and leaping from branch to branch without using its wings.


The diet consists of insects, cicadas, wasps and caterpillars (including poisonous ones), spiders and small lizards.


Subspecies insulana
Photo © by DABS
Chaguaramas, Trinidad, June 2018

They are not brood parasites.

They build a cup-shaped nest of leaves. The clutch consists of 2 to 3 white eggs which are incubated by both parents.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Avibase
  3. Wikipedia
  4. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved June 2018)

Recommended Citation

External Links

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