Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Western kingbird

Tyrannus verticalis

(Photo from Wikipedia)

Common name:
western kingbird (en); suiriri-ocidental (pt); tyran de l'ouest (fr); tirano occidental (es); Arkansaskönigstyrann (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Tyrannidae

This species is widespread in the western parts of North American, from the southern parts of the Canadian provinces of British Columbia , Alberta , Saskatchewan and Manitoba, south to northern Mexico, and east to Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and easternmost Texas. They migrate south to winter across Central America.

These birds are 20-24 cm long and have a wingspan of 37-40 cm. They 37-46 g.

Western kingbirds are mostly found in dry, open habitats with scattered trees and scrubs, or tall man-made structures. These include grassland, desert scrub, pasture, savanna, and urban areas. They are present from sea level up to an altitude of 2.300 m.

They mostly eat large flying insects, including Hymenoptera, Hemiptera, Orthoptera, Lepidoptera, Diptera and Coleoptera, but also other arthropods such as spiders. They also eat fruits and berries such as elderberry, hawthorn or mulberries.

Western kingbirds breed in May-July. They nest in an open cup of grass stems, rootlets, fine twigs, bark and plant fibres, lined with fine material such as wool, cotton, hair, feathers, and cloth. The nest is typically placed in tree, bush or on human-made structures, such as utility poles and fence posts. The female lays 3-5 whitish eggs with brown, lavender, and black blotches, which she incubates alone for 18-19 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 16-17 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and a global population of 19 million individuals. The population has undergone a small increase over the last 4 decades and is thus not threatened at present.

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