The tityras were formerly placed in the cotinga family, but are now usually treated as tyrant flycatchers, although Stiles and Skutch separate the tityras as part of a separate family, the Tityridae. The Black-crowned Tityra is sometimes placed in a separate genus Erator.
There are just three species of tityra.
- Black-tailed Tityra, Tityra cayana
Masked Tityra, Tityra semifasciata
Black-crowned Tityra, Tityra inquisitor
These are medium-sized birds. Their plumage is quite unlike that of other tyrant flycatchers. The adult males are greyish-white above and white below, except for the wings and tail which are black. The males of all three species also have black head markings. The females are similar, but darker grey above, with brown head markings.
These species are found in forest clearings and edges, second growth and other semi-open habitats such as plantation shade trees. The eggs are laid in a bed of dry leaves in a tree hole, often an old woodpecker nest. The female incubates alone, but both parents feed the chicks. Fledging takes up to 25 days.
Tityras are seen alone or in pairs, perched conspicuously as they feed on medium-sized fruits, large insects and sometimes small lizards. They have unmusical nasal grunting or buzzing calls.
- Hilty, Birds of Venezuela ISBN 0-7136-6418-5
- ffrench, Birds of Trinidad and Tobago ISBN 0-7136-6759-1
- Stiles and Skutch, A guide to the birds of Costa Rica ISBN 0-0814-9600-4