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Great Kiskadee


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Great Kiskadees are a treat for bird watchers who visit south Texas—and the birds won’t keep you waiting. They’re boisterous in both attitude and color: a black bandit’s mask, a yellow belly, and flashes of warm reddish-brown when they fly. Kiskadees sit out in the open and attract attention with incessant kis-ka-dee calls and sallying flights. Despite their small U.S. range, this is one of the most widespread flycatchers in the Western Hemisphere.



Their namesake call is a three-syllable delivery, with a sharp accent on the first syllable (which someone thought sounded like KIS-ka-dee, though many choose other descriptions). It is given in many different situations, such as among mates, across neighboring territories, or during disputes. They also give a short one-syllable, protesting screechy call when harassing predators or to scatter other birds at a feeding site.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Great Kiskadees readily come to feeders to eat fruit such as bananas. Watch out for these bold birds: they also readily steal other kinds of food, such as bread, peanut butter, and pet food.

Find This Bird

Great Kiskadees are loud, colorful birds, so as long as you’re within their range and in the appropriate habitat, you should have good luck finding them. Look for them in low, open woods particularly near streams and oxbow lakes, where they perch out in the open near the tops of trees. Look for bright yellow movement and a flash of rufous in the wings as the birds fly out after prey. You may not recognize their piercing kiskadee calls at first, but they’re hard to ignore—follow the sound to track down these avian extroverts.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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