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Tropical Kingbird Tyrannus melancholicus


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Tropical Kingbird
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has a darker gray head than Western, with a whitish throat and dark mask. Back is greenish, while wings and tail are brown with pale feather margins. Breast is greenish yellow and grades into bright yellow underparts; underwing coverts are also bright yellow. JUVENILE Similar, but wing feather margins are buffy.

Dimensions Length: 8-9 1/2" (20-24 cm)

Habitat A mainly tropical species, but a local summer visitor (mainly Apr- Aug) to open woodland in southern Arizona and scarce resident in Texas's Lower Rio Grande Valley.

Observation Tips Sometimes perches on roadside wires.

Range California, Southwest, Northwest

Voice Utters a rapid chirruping trill.

Similar Species Couch's King bird T. couchii (L 8-9.5 in) is probably best separated by call, a rolling, slurred pu-weeeer; song is a series of twittering phrases including tewit-tewit-tewichurr. Adult has a gray head, dark mask, whitish throat, and greenish gray back. Wings are brown with pale fringes (buff in juvenile) and tail is forked. Greenish yellow chest grades into bright yellow underparts. Summer visitor and local resident in southern Texas, favoring woodland margins.

Discussion Recalls Western, but separable with care: note in particular the stouter, longer bill, shorter wings, greenish yellow (not gray) breast, and forked (not straight-ended) tail. Sexes are similar.