Sunday, September 27, 2015

Gray Kingbird

After leaving Long Key, we proceeded to Duck Key, which looked like a gated community. On our own, we probably would not have entered—but the BirdsEye bird-finding app assured us that Gray Kingbirds had recently been reported on Duck Key. After driving though the residential streets, I opened the window and heard the raspy call of the kingbird.  “Sounds like it is coming from behind that house!” I called, as we turned a corner. And there was our kingbird. I took some distant photos. A few blocks distant, another Gray Kingbird obligingly forayed from its telephone-line perch.

Gray Kingbirds breed throughout the West Indies, northern South America, and the coastal southeastern United States, from Florida north to South Carolina and Mississippi. These flycatchers consume large flying insects, including beetles, dragonflies, bees, and, as you as see in the bottom photograph, wasps.  They also eat lizards and various fruits (Smith and Jackson 2002). Gray Kingbirds look superficially similar to Eastern Kingbirds, but are more gray overall, lack the broad white terminal tail bands, and have more robust bills. I suspect the size of the bills protects the kingbirds from venomous insect stings.

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