Tropical Kingbird Identification

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The Four Keys to ID

  • Size & Shape

    A powerfully built flycatcher with a big head and a heavy, long bill. It has pointed but broad wings, and its medium-length tail shows a shallow notch in the center.

    Relative Size

    Larger than a Western Kingbird, smaller than a Green Jay.

    Relative Sizerobin sizedrobin-sized
    Measurements
    • Both Sexes
      • Length: 7.1-9.1 in (18-23 cm)
      • Weight: 1.1-1.5 oz (32-43 g)

Regional Differences

Ornithologists recognize three subspecies, which differ mostly in intensity of their plumage colors: satrapa from the United States south to Venezuela; despotes in eastern Brazil; and the larger melancholicus across the remainder of South America. Both despotes and melancholicus are more vividly yellow below than satrapa.