Eastern Kingbird

ID Info
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Eastern Kingbird
  • Eastern Kingbird
Silhouette FlycatchersFlycatchers

Eastern Kingbird

Tyrannus tyrannus
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Tyrannidae
Basic Description

With dark gray upperparts and a neat white tip to the tail, the Eastern Kingbird looks like it’s wearing a business suit. And this big-headed, broad-shouldered bird does mean business—just watch one harassing crows, Red-tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons, and other birds that pass over its territory. Eastern Kingbirds often perch on wires in open areas and either sally out for flying insects or flutter slowly over the tops of grasses. They spend winters in South American forests, where they eat mainly fruit.

More ID Info
image of range map for Eastern KingbirdRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

In overgrown fields near forest edges, scan for a large, dark-backed flycatcher atop a shrub, fencepost, or wire. Wait for it to sally out to catch an insect, and look for an all-white belly and white-tipped tail. On country drives you can also often spot them as they sit on fence wires; it also helps to learn their distinctive call note, which sounds like an electric spark or zap. You can see Eastern Kingbirds starting in March or April until they head south again in late July or August.

Other Names
  • Tirano Dorso Negro (Spanish)
  • Tyran tritri (French)

Backyard Tips

Kingbirds may visit open yards with nearby trees, scattered vegetation, and lots of insects. Berry bushes may help attract them, particularly in late summer and fall.

  • Cool Facts