Living Bird Magazine
Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicus
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Tyrannidae
One of the most common sights in Middle and South America, the handsome Tropical Kingbird sits on utility lines, fences, and exposed trees seemingly everywhere. These big, gray-and-yellow flycatchers catch insects on impressive pursuit flights, usually returning to the same perch to eat their catch. In the United States, the species nests just into southernmost Texas and Arizona, where it inhabits towns, ranches, and lowlands of many sorts, especially near water. Across their vast range to the south, Tropical Kingbirds occur from sea level to areas over 10,000 feet high.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Tropical Kingbirds along roads and on utility lines nearly anywhere in the tropical Americas. In the United States, it is a rather local lowland resident in rural areas and towns, usually near permanent water such as ponds and reservoirs. The species often perches on wires and snags in the open and frequently nests in cottonwood trees in the United States.
- Tirano Melancólico (Spanish)
- Tyran mélancolique (French)
- Cool Facts
- Tropical Kingbirds sometimes nest close to members of the blackbird family (Icteridae), such as orioles, caciques, and oropendolas, which nest in colonies. In turn, these tropical blackbirds often nest near large wasp nests, which deter predators, and the birds join together to chase away nest parasites such as cowbirds. The kingbirds benefit from having such vigilant neighbors.
- The Tropical Kingbird has become a regular fall visitor to the Pacific Coast of the United States. Nearly every year a few wandering kingbirds, mostly immatures, are discovered there.