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Western Kingbird
In Kansas
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Inopinaves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Tyranni
Infraorder: Tyrannides
Parvorder: Tyrannida
Family: Tyrannidae
Subfamily: Tyranninae
Genus: Tyrannus
Species: T. verticalis
Binomial name
Tyrannus verticalis
Say, 1823

The Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis; tih-RAN-us ver-tih-KALE-iss[2]) is a large tyrant flycatcher. It is found in Canada, the US and most of Central America.[1]

Its genus name comes from Latin meaning "monarch" or "ruler"; species name comes from Latin, pertaining to the top if its head (concealed red crown patch).[2]

Other names[]

Arkansas Kingbird.[2]


Length is 8–9.5 in (20–24 cm) long[2][3]; wingspan 15.25–16.50 in (38.7–41.9 cm).[2]

The head, nape, and breast are pale ashy grey, and the throat is is greyish-white; these areas contrast with the slightly darker lores and ear coverts, which create a mask.[3] The rest of the underparts are bright to pale yellow. The back is greyish with a greenish wash; the wings are dark brownish-grey.[3]

The relatively long, slightly fan-shaped tail is black with pure white outer webs on the outer retrices;[3][4] and a narrow white edging on each side, but no white band across tip.[5]

Similar species[]

The size of an Eastern Kingbird, but with paler head and neck, yellowish belly.[5]



Mostly feeds on insects as well as fruit. It was recorded to catch as well as eat a Black-chinned Hummingbird.[6]

Darts out from perch in tree, low bush, fence post, tall weed stalk to catch and eat bees (usually, drones, or males), wasps, beetles, moths; drops to the ground to feed on caterpillars, grasshoppers, crickets, also eats bugs, millipedes, spiders; occasionally tree frogs; fruit of elderberries and hawthorns.[7][2]




Southwest Canada, Western US, upper Mississippi Valley to n. Mexico. Winters in to Costa Rica and Central America, rarely along the Gulf Coast. Found in farms, open country with scattered trees, roadsides, wires.[5]


  1. ^ a b 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 c d e f Terres, John K. (1980). The Audubon Society Encyclopedia of North American Birds. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. ISBN 0394466519. 
  3. ^ a b c d Bellrose, Frank C. and The Audubon Society (1983). The Audubon Society Master Guide to Birding. National Geographic Society. ISBN 1426200722. 
  4. ^ Mitch Waite Group. (2002-2013). Western_Kingbird | |Western_Kingbird" in Whatbird. Accessed 21/07/2024
  5. ^ a b c Peterson, Roger Tory (1980). A Field Guide to the Birds East of the Rockies. Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 039526619X. 
  6. ^ Ledbetter, D.; Butler, C.J. (2009). "Western Kingbird predation of a Black-chinned Hummingbird" (PDF). Bulletin of the Oklahoma Ornithological Society (42): 16. Retrieved 5 May 2014. 
  7. ^ Ohlendorf, H.M. (1974). Competitive relationships among kingbirds (Tyrannus) in Trans-Pecos Texas. Wilson Bull. 86:357-73.

External links[]