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Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis


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Western Kingbird
credit: Mdf/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly pale gray head (darkest through eye and palest on cheek) and pale olive-gray back. Orange central crown patch is mostly concealed and seldom visible. Wings are dark, but with pale feather margins, and tail is mainly dark, but with pale margin to outer feathers. Chest is pale gray and underparts, including underwing coverts, are otherwise pale lemon yellow. JUVENILE Similar, but paler overall.

Dimensions Length: 8-9" (20-23 cm)

Habitat Widespread and common summer visitor (mainly Apr-Aug) to farmland and a variety of mostly open-country habitats. Winters mainly in Central America.

Observation Tips Often perches in the open and easy to find beside roads through agricultural land.

Range Southeast, Florida, New England, Great Lakes, California, Rocky Mountains, Mid-Atlantic, Plains, Eastern Canada, Western Canada, Texas, Northwest, Southwest

Voice Calls include a sharp chip and an agitated-sounding chatter; song comprises a series of chip notes.

Discussion The most widespread kingbird in the west. Typically perches on wires or dead branches and engages in flycatching sorties, repeatedly catching insects in flight and typically returning to the same perch. Male's tumbling aerial courtship display is interesting to watch. Sexes are similar.