Photos and Article by Charly Mann
The Eastern Kingbird is the most fearless bird I have ever encountered. This morning, May 28, 2010, my daughter and I were out taking photos of Meadowlarks when we saw a Red-Tailed Hawk fly overhead with an Eastern Kingbird attached to its back. We were stunned by this sight, and were even more amazed that it was clear that the Kingbird which was less than 1/6 the size of the hawk was fiercily pecking away at the hawk's neck. At the same time at least five other Eastern Kingbirds were chasing the hawk. The Hawk had apparently tried to steal an egg from a nearby Kingbird's nest, and these guys are highly aggressive and coordinated at driving off any potential threats no matter what the size
This is a young Eastern Kingbird that allowed me to stand very close to him to take this picture
The Eastern Kingbird measures about seven inches length and weighs around 1.4 ounces. (The Red-Tailed Hawk by contrast is usually at least two feet in length and weighs almost three pounds.)
Eastern Kingbird on the top of a small bush looking for flying insects to make meals out of
In Oklahoma you are likely to see the Eastern Kingbird and the much larger Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher in the same vicinity. This is because they are both members of the flycatcher family. Like other flycatchers the Eastern Kingbird likes to find a branch or fence post to sit on as they watch for flying insects, and then miraculously take off, catching their prey quickly in mid-air and then returning within thirty seconds to the same perch.
The Eastern Kingbird is a black, grey, and white bird with a usually hidden red crown. It stomach and chin are white, while its head is black. It has a grey back with white stripes, and a black tail with a bottom white band.
Back view of the elegant and fearless Eastern Kingbird in northeast Oklahoma
Eastern Kingbirds migrate to Central and South America in the Winter. They return to Oklahoma by the middle of April every year.