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The Western Kingbird - The Top Gun Among Birds

Photos and article by Kathryn Mann

Western Kingbirds are a flycatcher usually found in Oklahoma during the summer months near farms that have grazing livestock. There is a pasture not far from me where I often see one sitting within 50 yards of a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, who they somewhat resemble less the long tail. Like the Scissor-tailed flycatcher they sit on tall weeds, bare branches, barbed wire, or fence posts as they scout out insects flying through the air. When they spot a victim they quickly swoop out to catch them in mid-air.

Western Kingbird singing
Western Kingbird next to a cow pasture in northeast Oklahoma

Western Kingbirds are about 8 inches long. They have a 15 inch wingspan and weigh just 1.4 ounces. The top of their breast and throat are white, while the rest of their belly and chest is yellow. They are light gray on top and have a black tail with white edges. Just like their cousin the Eastern Kingbird they have a touch of red on the back of their head that is usually difficult to see.

Western Kingbird close up
Western Kingbird near Shidler, Oklahoma

During courtship the male Western Kingbird soars up to 65 feet making numerous twists and turns before finally coming to a stall and then making a series of aerial somersaults as he comes down to earth.

Western Kingbird newborn
This is a baby Western Kingbird that is two weeks old, and this is its first time out of the nest

They are aggressive defenders of their nests and young. I have twice seen them driving off hawks.

Unlike most flycatchers they are rather solitary and are usually seen alone or in a pair.

Juvenile Western Kingbird
This is a juvenile Western Kingbird about 25 days old

The Western Kingbird was once known as the Arkansas Kingbird.



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Dori baesler      1:54 PM Thu 7/19/2012

we have a lot of them we found a baby kingbird laying there because of my dog it was sill alive we here'd the mom we grabed a container and put some grass in it and than put the baby bird in it than put the container in a tree and waied 2 hours and than looked in the container and mom got it

Jessalyn      2:27 AM Thu 1/5/2012

Furrelaz? That's marvelously good to know.

Spurwing Plover      12:37 AM Fri 7/29/2011

Ive seen these kingbirds nesting on utility poles right in town where i live showing how they can adapt

Uplifting Visions
a guide to happiness, good health, and success
Charly Mann in a Hawaiian shirt
by Charly Mann

From the age of seven I have been enchanted with the idea of living happily ever after, and have made it a life quest to find that answer. I have spoken to hundreds of people – usually older and wiser than me, and read countless books and articles on the subject. In my website Uplifting Visions I share what I consider the best insights I have learned about achieving happiness in life.

Oklahoma Birds Listed by Color

House Finch - male (carpodacus mexicanus)
Purple Finch - male (carpodacus purpureus)
Northern Cardinal - male (cardinalis cardinalis)
Painted Bunting - male (passerina ciris)
Summer Tanager - male (piranga rubra)

Baltimore Oriole - male (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - male (icterus spurius)

Yellow Warbler (dendroica petechia )
Baltimore Oriole - female (icterus galbula)
Orchard Oriole - female (icterus spurius)
Summer Tanager - female (piranga rubra)
Yellow Goldfinch - male (carduelis tristis)
Western Kingbird (tyrannus verticalis)
Eastern Meadowlark (sturnella magna)

Malard - male (anas platyrhynchos)
Dark-eyed Junco - female (junco hyemalis)
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (archilochus colubris)
Painted Bunting - female (passerina ciris)
Green Heron (butorides virescens)

Barn Swallow (hirundo rustica)
Belted Kingfisher (ceryle alcyon)
Blue Jay (cyanocitta cristata)
Blue Grosbeak - male (guiraca caerulea)
Eastern Bluebird (sailia sialis)
Indigo Bunting - male (passerina cyanea)
Purple Martin - male (progne subis)

Great Blue Heron (ardea herodias)
Carolina Chickadee (poecile carolinensis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Red-breasted Nuthatch (sitta canadensis)
Grey Catbird (dumetella carolinensis)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet (regulus calendula)
Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher (tyrannus forficatus)
White-breasted Nuthatch (sitta carolinensis)
Tufted Titmouse (baelophus bicolor)
American Robin (turdus migratorius)
Northern Mockingbird (mimus polyglottos)
Mississippi Kite (ictinia mississippiensis)
Dickcissel (spiza americana)

American Crow (corvus brachyrhynchos)
Brown-headed Cowbird - male (molothrus ater)
European Starling (sturnus vulgaris)
Common Grackle (quiscalus quiscula)
Red-winged Blackbird - male (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Towhee (pipilo maculatus)
Turkey Vulture (cathartes aura)

Black & White
American Bald Eagle (haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Black-billed Magpie (pica hudsonia)
Downey Woodpecker (picoides pubescens)
Red-Bellied Woodpecker (melanerpes carolinus)
Purple Martin - female (progne subis)
Eastern Kingbird (tyrannus tyrannus)
Dark-eyed Junco - male (junco hyemalis)
Loggerhead Shrike (lanius ludovicianus)

American Kestrel (falco sparverius)
Blue Grosbeak - female (guiraca caerulea)
Brown-headed Cowbird - female (molothrus ater)
Brown Thrasher (toxostoma rufum)
Common Nighthawk (chordeiles minor)
Carolina Wren (thryothorus ludovicianus)
Cedar Waxwing (bombycilla cedrorum)
Greater Roadrunner (geococcyx californianus)
Killdeer (charadrius vociferus)
Northern Bobwhite (colinus virginianus)
Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
Cliff Swallow (petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Horned Lark (eremophila alpestris)
House Finch - female (carpodacus mexicanus)
Northern Flicker (colaptes auratus)
Yellow-billed Cuckoo (coccyzus americanus)
Mourning Dove (zenaida macroura)
Malard - female (anas platyrhynchos)
Purple Finch - female (carpodacus purpureus)
House Sparrow (passer domesticus)
Indigo Bunting - female (passerina cyanea)
Red-winged Blackbird - female (agelaius phoeniceus)
Spotted Sandpiper (actitis macularia)
Upland Sandpiper (bartramia longicauda)
Northern Cardinal - female (cardinalis cardinalis)
Eastern Screech-Owl (otus asio)
Yellow Goldfinch - female (carduelis tristis)
Canada Goose (branta canadensis)

Wild Birds of Northeast OK

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