The Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) is a bird of prey that belongs to the family Tyrannidae. It is a medium-sized passerine bird that can be found in North and Central America. In this blog post, we will dive into the basic description, habitat, food habits, where to find it and some cool facts about this beautiful bird.
The Western Kingbird measures 7-9 inches from head to tail and weighs around 1 oz. This bird has white underparts and grey upperparts with a black mask around its eyes. The bill of the Western Kingbird is large and broad with a hooked tip. They have short wings relative to their body size allowing them to make quick turns while hunting insects in mid-air.
Where To Find This Bird
The Western Kingbird breeds across western North America, mostly west of the Great Plains but also as far east as Arkansas. During winter it migrates towards southern Mexico or northern South America.
This kingbird species mainly inhabits open woodlands, grasslands, ranches or agricultural fields where there are plenty of insects available for them to feed on.
Western kingbirds predominantly feed on insects such as flies, wasps, bees or butterflies which they catch either by perching on trees or shrubs or by making aerial sallies high in the sky. Occasionally they also consume small fruits such as cherries when insect numbers are low.
Did you know that Western kingbirds show an unusual behavior during breeding season? Instead of building nests themselves they prefer reusing old nests made by other birds such as American Robins or Northern Mockingbirds.
Furthermore these birds can sometimes be seen hawking flying insects alongside other flycatcher species such as Ash-throated Flycatchers or Black Phoebes. This behavior is called mixed-species flocking and is thought to help save energy by allowing several species of birds to look for prey together.
To sum up, the Western Kingbird is a fascinating bird with unique hunting strategies and interesting breeding habits. With its striking black mask around its eyes, this stunning bird can be easily spotted in open habitats across Western North America.