Tropical Kingbird

The Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus) is a species of bird that breeds from southern Arizona and the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas through Central America, South America as far as south as central Argentina and western Peru, and on Trinidad and Tobago. Birds from the northernmost and southernmost breeding areas migrate to warmer climates in the colder months. The breeding habitat of this bird is semi-open areas with trees and shrubs, including gardens and roadsides. This bird is a member of the Tyrant Flycatcher family.

The adult is about 8.66 inches in length and weighs 1.4 ounces. It has a grayish-green back, pale gray head, with darker eye mask, an orange crown stripe, and a thick gray bill. The throat is pale gray, becoming olive on the breast, with the rest of the underparts being yellow. The wing and tail are brown. Sexes are similar, but the young have pale beige edges on the wing coverts. The call of this bird is a high-pitched twittering tree-e-e-e-e-e-e. The song of the male is a more complex version of the call.

The Tropical Kingbird picks a prominent open perch high in a tree. It takes long sallies to catch insects in mid-air, and will sometimes hover to pick food from vegetation. Some fruit is taken and it will even forage in disturbed habitat. Found mostly in the upper levels of trees, they rarely follow mixed-species feeding flocks in the understory. They will aggressively defend their territory against intruders, even much larger birds than itself, including hawks.

This bird builds a flimsy cup nest in a tree. The female lays two or three cream colored eggs with reddish-brown marks. The eggs are incubated by the female for 16 days and the young fledge the nest 18 to 19 days after hatching. This widespread and common flycatcher is not considered a threatened species by the IUCN.

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