Eastern Kingbird

Tyrannus tyrannus

A large dark flycatcher of fields and other open areas, the Eastern Kingbird is a common and widespread species. Despite its name, its range extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast.

Interesting Information

  • The Eastern Kingbird is highly aggressive toward nest predators and larger birds. Hawks and crows are attacked regularly. A kingbird was observed to knock a Blue Jay out of a tree and cause it to hide under bush to escape the attack.

  • During the summer the Eastern Kingbird eats mostly flying insects and maintains a breeding territory that it defends vigorously against all other kingbirds. In the winter along the Amazon, however, it has a completely different lifestyle: it travels in flocks and eats fruit.

  • Parent Eastern Kingbirds feed their young for about seven weeks. Because of this relatively long period of dependence, a pair generally raises only one brood of young per nesting season.


Adult Description

  • Length Range: 22 cm (8.5 in)

  • Weight: 43 g (1.5 oz)

Medium-sized songbird.

Head and back dark.

Throat, chest, and belly white.

White tip to dark tail.

Sex Differences

Sexes Similar


Juvenile similar to adult, but shows buffy edges to wing feathers and a narrower white tip to tail. Also lacks the concealed crown patch.


Photo taken from: The Sibley Field Guide by David Allen Sibley

© 2003 Cornell Lab of Ornithology


  • Breeds in open environments with scattered perches, such as fields, orchards, shelterbelts, and forest edges. Uses urban parks and golf courses.

  • Winters in river- and lake-edge habitats and canopy of tropical forests.


Captures most prey by aerial hawking from an elevated perch. Also grabs insects off vegetation with its bill.


Flying insects, fruits especially in winter.



Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
     Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae
Genus: Tyrannus
Species: Tyrannus tyrannus

Similar Species

  • Gray Kingbird is similar, but shows a dark mask on its otherwise lighter head, is paler gray on the back, and lacks the white tail tip.

  • Thick-billed Kingbird is brownish gray on the back and lacks the white tail tip.

  • Eastern Phoebe is smaller, is paler gray on the back and dirtier white or yellowish underneath, has a proportionately longer tail that lacks a white tip, and constantly wags its tail.

Bird Sound

Song a series of high-pitched sputtering notes followed by a down slurred buzzy "zeer." "Ti-t-t-t-ti-zeer." Also utters the "zeer's alone.

Eggs look like this

Photo taken from: ARCTOS Collaborative Collection Management Solution