Western kingbird

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Western kingbird
Tyrannus-verticalis 3.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae
Genus: Tyrannus
Species: T. verticalis
Binomial name
Tyrannus verticalis
Say, 1823

The western kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis) is a large tyrant flycatcher.

Adults are grey-olive on the upperparts with a grey head and a dark line through the eyes; the underparts are light becoming light orange-yellow on the lower breast and belly. They have a long black tail with white outer feathers. Western kingbirds also have a reddish crown that they only display during courtship and confrontations with other species.

Standard Measurements[2][3]
length 8–9.3 in (200–240 mm)
weight 40 g (1.4 oz)
wingspan 15.5 in (390 mm)
wing 125.5–133.5 mm (4.94–5.26 in)
tail 88.5–96.5 mm (3.48–3.80 in)
culmen 20.5–22.5 mm (0.81–0.89 in)
tarsus 18.5–19.5 mm (0.73–0.77 in)

It is very similar to and easily confused with Cassin's kingbird, Couch's kingbird and the tropical kingbird, all of which overlap the western kingbird's range to some extent. The western, however, is generally lighter in coloration and can be distinguished from these species by the black squared tail with white outer webs, as well as voice.[3]

Their breeding habitat is open areas in western North America. They make a sturdy cup nest in a tree or shrub, sometimes on top of a pole or other man-made structure. Three to five eggs are laid and incubated for 12 to 14 days.[2]

The name kingbird is derived from their "take-charge" behaviour. These birds aggressively defend their territory, even against much larger birds such as hawks.

These birds migrate in flocks to Florida and the Pacific coast of southern Mexico and Central America.

They wait on an open perch and fly out to catch insects in flight, sometimes hovering and then dropping to catch food on the ground. They also eat berries.

The song is a squeaky chatter, sometimes compared to a squeaky toy. The call is a sharp loud whit. It occasionally sings before sunrise.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Tyrannus verticalis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Godfrey, W. Earl (1966). The Birds of Canada. Ottawa: National Museum of Canada. pp. 249–250. 
  3. ^ a b Sibley, David Allen (2000). The Sibley Guide to Birds. New York: Knopf. pp. 336–337. ISBN 0-679-45122-6. 

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