Eastern Kingbirds

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When I made the trip out to Colony Farms I had high hopes for seeing all kinds of birds, but eastern kingbirds didn’t cross my mind as a possibility. This unassuming bird was one of the only birds I got a decent photo of, and one of the only (new) species I ended up seeing.

Earning Their Crown

Eastern kingbirds get their name for a concealed ‘crown’ of yellow, orange, or red feathers on their head. Like other ‘crowned’ birds, the feathers remain hidden until the right moment. In this case, the feathers come out when it’s time to attack intruders.

Their scientific name, Tyrannus tyrannus, meaning ‘tyrant’ or ‘king’, calls out to the kingbird’s aggressive behaviour towards each other as well as with other species. They have been known to attack hawks, crows, stellar’s jays, and herons.

Finding Eastern Kingbirds

Eastern kingbirds range right across the east coast of North America to the west coast of British Columbia. They migrate to Mexico and parts of South America in the winter.

They typically live in open grasslands and wetlands, sitting in the trees along the edges of the fields or water.

Food Fit For Eastern Kingbirds

These birds aren’t part of the flycatcher family for no reason โ€” a chunk of their diet is large bugs. It’s even thought that these birds might rely on their bugs as well as berries for hydration, as they are rarely seen actually drinking water.

In addition to bugs, kingbirds have been known to catch frogs.

Eastern Kingbird, Colony Farms, July 19, 2021


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