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Western Kingbird

Tyrannus verticalis ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TYRANNIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Western Kingbird Photo

An eye-catching bird with ashy gray and lemon-yellow plumage, the Western Kingbird is a familiar summertime sight in open habitats across western North America. This large flycatcher sallies out to capture flying insects from conspicuous perches on trees or utility lines, flashing a black tail with white edges. Western Kingbirds are aggressive and will scold and chase intruders (including Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels) with a snapping bill and flared crimson feathers they normally keep hidden under their gray crowns.

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Backyard Tips

If you live in a rural area with open habitat such as grassy fields, Western Kingbirds may perch on shade trees or fences in your yard. Although they are mostly insectivores, they may eat fruits of elderberry, hawthorn, Texas mulberry, woodbine, and other shrubs.

Find This Bird

During spring and summer, these large, aggressive flycatchers with gray-and-lemon plumage are conspicuous in open habitats across western North America. Their sharp kip notes and other squeaky calls can help lead you to them. In between flycatching flights, Western Kingbirds perch on trees, shrubs, fence posts, and power lines; this makes them fairly easy to spot along roadsides.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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