Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Tyrannidae | [latin] Tyrannus tyrannus | [UK] Eastern Kingbird | [FR] Tyran de la Caroline | [DE] Konigstyrann | [ES] Tirano Oriental | [NL] Koningstiran


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The white band across the tail tip marks the Eastern Kingbird. Red crown mark is concealed, rarely seen. Often seems to fly quiveringly on “tips of wings.” Harasses crows, hawks.

Listen to the sound of Eastern Kingbird

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/E/Eastern Kingbird.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

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North America : widespread


Wood edges, river groves, farms, shelterbelts, orchards, roadsides.
In summer, requires open space for hunting and trees for nesting; habitat ranges from clearings within forest to open grassland with few scattered trees. Often common around edges of marshes, farmland, native tallgra
ss prairie. Winters in tropical forest, especially around edges and along rivers.


In courtship, the male displays with rapid up-and-down flight, zigzags, backward somersaults, other aerobatics. The red patch of crown feathers, usually concealed, may be visible during displays.
Nest: Site is usually in deciduous tree or large shrub, 7-30′ above the ground, sometimes lower or much higher. Sometimes on utility towers, on dead snags standing in water, or other odd site. Ne
st (built by female, perhaps with help from male) is a bulky cup of weed stalks, twigs, grass, lined with fine grass and sometimes animal hair.
Eggs: 3-4, sometimes 2-5. White to pinkish white, heavily blotched with brown, lavender, and gray. Incubation mostly or entirely by female, 16-18 days (perhaps sometimes shorter).
Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 16-18 days; young may be tended by parents for more than a month after fledging.

Feeding habits

Mostly insects, some fruit.
Insects make up majority of summer diet; included are many beetles, wasps, bees, winged ants, grasshoppers, flies, leafhoppers, and others. Also eats many berries and wild fruits. Winter diet not well known, but feeds heavily on berries in tropical fores
Behavior: Forages by watching from a perch and then flying out to catch insects. May capture food in midair, or may hover while t
aking items (insects, berries) from foliage. In cold weather, when few insects are flying, may feed on ground.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). Despite the fact that the population trend appears to be decreasing, the decline is not believed to be sufficiently rapid to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Eastern Kingbird status Least Concern


Central Canada to
Gulf of Mexico. Winters Colombia to northern Argentina. Migration: A long-distance migrant, wintering entirely in South America. Migrates in flocks. Unlike many of the migratory songbirds, kingbirds may travel mostly by day.

Distribution map

Eastern Kingbird distribution range map

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