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Diego Martin, Trinidad

Tropical Kingbird

Gray head with a concealed red orange crown patch and with black eye streak and black bill. The upper back is greenish gray with brown wings and notched blackish brown tail. Throat white. The breast is greenish yellow and the rest of the underparts lemon yellow. This bird is sometimes mistaken for a Kiskadee, however the absence of the white streak on the crown and the paler colors provide easy visual differentiators. Sexes are similar with size being 18-23 cm (7-9 in) and weight being 32-43 g (1.13 -1.52 ounces). The immature are similar to the adult except the red in the crown is reduced.

This bird is very similar to the Sulphury Flycatcher which has a dark gray head and is stockier. It is often mistaken, by some without serious examination, for the Kiskadee because both frequent some of the same areas and have yellow underparts and brown wings.

Resident in both Tobago and Trinidad, it feeds on flying insects that it spots from an elevated exposed perch such as wire or fence or exposed branch. They are usually most conspicuous toward dusk as they hawk night-flying insects. In chasing its prey it does some dramatic sweeps. At times the kingbird swoops downward to snatch grasshoppers or other objects from low shrubs or it may alight for a moment on the ground. It often eats berries very ocasionally a small frog is taken.

When perching it has a very erect posture. It is intolerant of intruders such as Toucans, Caracaras and Swallow-tailed Kites and will chase them vigorously. They inhabit open or semi-open country, avoiding densely forested areas and are also found in residential areas. Their nests are built on open exposed branches.


Family - Tyrant Flycatchers

Local Names - Yellow belly, Yellow Kingbird, Grey Headed Kiskadee

Latin Name - Tyrannus melancholicus

Range - southwestern USA through Central America, South America as far as south as central Argentina and western Peru, and on Trinidad and Tobago.

 

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Diego Martin

 

 

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Diego Martin

 

References

Wong, A. 2004. "Tyrannus melancholicus" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Tyrannus_melancholicus.html.

DeGraaf, Richard M., Virgil E. Scott, R.H. Hamre, Liz Ernst, and Stanley H. Anderson. 1991. Forest and rangeland birds of the United States natural history and habitat use. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 688. Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Online. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/birds/forest/forest.htm

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, All About Birds, at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/programs/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Tropical_Kingbird.html

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Birds of the World, David Alderton. 2004 Lorenz Books, London

Life Histories of Central American Birds II. Alexander F. Skutch. 1960, Cooper Ornithological Society

Birds of Venezuela. Steven L. Hilty. 2003, Christopher Helm, London

A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago. 2nd edition, Richard ffrench. 1992, Helm, London

 

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Last modified: February 16, 2008