My Bantam Lake

Eastern Kingbird

Written on 06/10/2018


Tyrannus tyrannus

The Eastern Kingbird is a sturdy, medium-sized songbird with a large head, upright posture, square-tipped tail, and a relatively short, straight bill. They measure 19 to 23 centimeters in length with a wingspan of 33 to 38 centimeters. Eastern Kingbirds are blackish above and white below. The head is a darker black than the wings and back, and the black tail has a conspicuous white tip. Eastern Kingbirds often perch in the open atop trees or along utility lines or fences. They fly with very shallow, rowing wingbeats and a raised head, usually accompanied by metallic, sputtering calls. Eastern Kingbirds are visual hunters, sallying out from perches to snatch flying insects. Eastern Kingbirds breed in open habitats such as yards, fields, pastures, grasslands, or wetlands, and are especially abundant in open places along forest edges or water. They spend winters in forests of South America. This species is of low conservation concern. 

Fun Facts:

  • During the summer the Eastern Kingbird eats mostly flying insects and maintains a breeding territory that it defends vigorously against all other kingbirds. In the winter along the Amazon, however, it has a completely different lifestyle: it travels in flocks and eats fruit.
  • The Eastern Kingbird has a crown of yellow, orange, or red feathers on its head, but the crown is usually concealed. When it encounters a potential predator the kingbird may simultaneously raise its bright crown patch, stretch its beak wide open to reveal a red gape, and dive-bomb the intruder.
  • Kingbirds sometimes catch small frogs, treating them the same way they deal with large insects: beating them against a perch and swallowing them whole. Eastern Kingbirds apparently rely almost completely on insects and fruit for moisture; they are rarely seen drinking water.
  • The oldest recorded Eastern Kingbird was a female that lived to be at least 10 years, 1 month old.

 

Source: Eastern Kingbird Overview and Identification Information, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Eastern_Kingbird/overview