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Eastern Kingbird


Eastern Kingbird
Tyrannus tyrannus
Order - Passeriformes; Family - Tyrannidae

A summer resident in Northern Virginia, the Eastern Kingbird is 7-9 inches long, with a mostly black to dark grey body and a white to pale-colored neck and undersides. The tip of the tail is also white. An orange red patch on top of its head is difficult to see.

It lives in open areas and along forest edges, perching on wires, signposts, and exposed branches to watch for flying insects to catch with its sharp beak.

The female lays several spotted white eggs in a cup-shaped nest in a tree or on a post. The pair raises the young for about seven weeks, longer than most small birds.

The male will defends its territory against other males, and both birds will attack and chase hawks, jays or crows to protect the nest.

When they migrate to northern South America for thewinter, the kingbirds change their behavior, traveling in flocks and feeding on fruit.

Photos © Julia Flanagan, Meadowlark Gardens Park, Vienna, VA