- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Tyrannidae
The Gray Kingbird is a large, assertive flycatcher often seen around towns and mangroves in coastal areas. Large headed and heavy billed like other kingbirds, the Gray Kingbird has ashy gray upperparts that grade into dark gray-brown wings and tail, with the hint of a dark mask through the eyes. Monochrome as it may be, this bird is a familiar favorite throughout its range owing to its boisterous pitirre! vocalizations and fighter-pilot flycatching—pursuing dragonflies and wasps on aerial chases that may cover 100 yards.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Gray Kingbirds are not too hard to find if you're in Florida or the Caribbean. They perch in the open, in trees or on utility wires, often delivering their rolling pitirre call. In the U.S., a brisk walk or drive through coastal towns in southern Florida in spring or summer, especially around the Keys, should turn up one or several. Look for the kingbirds' characteristic silhouette (large headed, broad shouldered), and then check for the gray upperparts and clean white underparts.
- Tirano Dominicano (Spanish)
- Tyran gris (French)
- Cool Facts
- Across the Caribbean basin, Gray Kingbirds are familiar yard birds. Their bold behavior, raucous voice, and ability to remove pesky insects make them memorable and have given rise to local nicknames in several languages. In Cuba the species is known as “el pitirre,” and for many years this was the name of the journal published by the Society of Caribbean Ornithology.
- Gray Kingbirds roost in large assemblages in the evening. Birds travel many miles to join the roost, usually arriving just before dusk. At dawn, they depart in different directions. Some birds, such as parrots, roost together regularly, in part to share information about the location of fruiting trees. Kingbirds seem to roost together primarily for the safety from predators that their large numbers provide.