Saturday, September 22, 2012

The Western Kingbird

As far as Kingbirds go, I haven't a clue.  They all look the same to me with variations of yellow on their fronts:)  So if you're an advanced birder of special powers and think I've got the bird all wrong, please let me know.  I won't be upset:)  This blogging experience is about learning and growing from one another. But the one thing I do know for certain is that these birds were a fun spot the day I went searching for Buntings:)  A happy accident:) But from what I can tell, this is the Western Kingbird. Or maybe it's the Tropical Kingbird?  Help me birders:)
I said to myself as I approached the bridge near the Santa Cruz river in Tucson, "Hello there, what are you?" Then I got closer and noticed more of them together!  I had definitely not seen this bird in Tucson before.  So indeed, it was a lifer. Perhaps one of those birds that people say, "Oh you've never seen that bird before?  I see them here all the time."
Again, I was alone on this hot and moist day, but I was able to get very close to this bird.  The Kingbird was the size of a Robin or Curve Billed Thrasher.  And when it flew, I smiled.  So graceful.  There were 4 of them that sat on fence lines along the wash.
Western Kingbirds are not really desert birds. Their presence in the Sonoran Desert is dependent on better watered habitats. Look for them along fences and utility wires in agricultural districts. They can also be found in semi-open riparian and grassland habitats. Riparian zones with more trees tend to favor the similar-looking Cassin's Kingbird. They are sometimes found in urban areas of Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. Source
Kingbirds are active hunters of flying insects and will target quite large ones such as cicadas. Their upright posture is typical of flycatchers.  And there were a lot of bugs that day.  This summer has been difficult on my legs with all the chiggers and mosquitoes.
The Western Kingbird(and Tropical Kingbird) is a summer breeding visitor to the mountains around Tucson, preferring tree lined creek sides.  But because of a crazy monsoon storm, they were found along the heavily tree'd Santa Cruz River. With summer coming to a close, they will be flying off for tropical locations this winter.  And like this bird suggests, it's time to fly!  More tomorrow.

26 comments:

ADRIAN said...

A beauty of a bird.

Joop Zand said...

Fantastic shots Chris....nice work again.

Greetings, Joop

Breathtaking said...

Wow!! Great captures of this little bird.Sorry I can't help with the identification, I'm also not a birder.:)

eileeninmd said...

Congrats on your Kingbird sightingand lifer. I have seen the Tropical species but, I am missing the Western Kingbird. I like to have photos of my lifers. You were able to get some great shots too. Great post, have a wonderful weekend.

The Magical Christmas Wreath Company said...

Pretty little fellas, not a bird that we see in these parts but they would be welcome in my garden anytime.

catmint said...

hi chris, never heard of a Kingbird, so you may not have a clue, but you've got more clues than me. I'm a bit concerned about the sexist name though - is the female a Queenbird?

Jill said...

These shots are amazing!

Ragged Robin said...

Well done on your lifer tick Chris. Lovely photos of a really interesting looking bird :) Enjoy your weekend!

TexWisGirl said...

i've been lucky to see a few kingbirds here at the pond - swooping into the water to skim insects, i presume.

Gaelyn said...

Always fun to find what is unexpected.

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

Beautiful shots of amazing birds. We are thrilled here when the Pilated woodpeckers bring their young by.

Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

Laurence Butler said...

Nice work Chris. Kingbirds are really awesome; I'm always grateful for any opportunity to see em.
You called all your birds correctly too. The Tropical Kingbird has yellow going all the way up the breast, whereas it stops at the belly with the Western. The Western also has more of a straight edge to its tail primaries, and that very bold white outline on tail. The Kingbirds are a tricky bunch though! Throw darker Couch's in there and a Thick-billed Kingbird...a birder has his work cut out.

Warren Baker said...

You did well with the camera today Chris, nice flight shots especially :-)

Marie said...

What a beautiful bird! You were very fortunate to see it.

Marie said...

By the way, I am so sorry you missed seeing the Space Shuttle! I am actually very grateful I got to see it. I was attempting some humor about my poor camera and insufficient photography skills. :-)

Phil said...

Nice shots of good looking birds Chris. I remember seeing Eastern Kingbirds in Ontario, a few miles from you. If you saw 4 together I suggest they may be migrants heading south to Central America?

Magpie said...

You got some awesome in-flight pictures!

Rohrerbot said...

Thanks Laurence!!! Both Kathie and I had a big discussion in the car about Kingbirds last weekend. I now can pick out a Cassin's Kingbird with ease. The Flycatchers are up there with Sparrows....but I'm starting to think that the Sparrows are easier:) Did some gardening today and hope to get out birding tomorrow. Talk to you soon. Chris:)

Rohrerbot said...

No no....don't worry, I understood:) I wish I could have played hooky to see this amazing site:) I love that you got the shot. Very exciting. I'd love to meet you. Have fun with Kathie. Truly wonderful person to meet and hang out with. Have a good Saturday!

Jeanne said...

Isn't it something the way their wings work? Wow.
I really like the in flight shots.

Giga said...

Miałeś szczęście zobaczyć te śliczne ptaki, ale szczęściu pomaga też dobra obserwacja i dobry fotograf. Pozdrawiam.
You were lucky enough to see these beautiful birds, but also helps good luck and good observation photographer. Yours.

Kalantikan said...

That first one is really awesome, with the best angle of flight! Happy Weekend friend!

Tammy said...

Wonderful captures! These Western Kingbirds are beautiful. I have only seen their eastern counterparts:)

sweetbay said...

You captured their grace very well. I especially like the first shot of the bird on the wing, beautiful!

~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Kingfishers are fun to watch swoop through the garden grabbing insects.

黄清华 Wong Ching Wah said...

Definitely like the second picture !