Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Eastern Kingbird

I have always thought the Eastern Kingbird to be inappropriately named. After all, this bird is found from coast to coast across North America, being absent only from the Southwest. When John Holden and I visited South Dakota last month, Eastern outnumbered Western kingbirds even west of the Missouri River. I think a better name might be the translation of its Spanish name, Pitirre Americano, or American Kingbird. This species is, after all, almost red, white and blue. OK, so it is bluish gray, and the red is hidden in its crown. So how about another Spanish appellation, Tirano Viajero, or Traveling (or Migrant) Kingbird? Erika and I saw huge flocks of Eastern Kingbirds in the winter when we studied in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

Eastern Kingbirds tend to be monogamous and usually retain the same mates over subsequent years. However, extra-pair copulations have been observed and they will lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, even birds of different species. The males guard while the females build nests, either to warn her of predators or to keep her from mating with other males (Allaboutbirds.org). Only single broods are raised each season, presumably due to the high energy required for flycatching and subsequent long periods of parental care (Murphy 1996). In a previous blog, I posted photos of young Eastern Kingbirds.

1 comment:

  1. Dan, I saw a pair of easter kingbirds at the northeast end of the big pond at St Olaf this last weekends, both days feeding on emerging Odonata. On Sunday, I witnessed a monarch butterfly drift/flap safely between the pair. Scott