Western Kingbird

photo by Phil Swanson

Tyrannus verticalis
L 8 3/4″ (22 cm).

Song or calls:
Listen (NGPC audio)

Common call is sharp “whit.” Also shrill calls similar to Eastern Kingbird, but on lower pitch.

Description: Sexes similar. Black tail, with white edges on outer tail feathers; relatively short bill; light gray head and breast; dark wings contrast with lighter back; and bright lemon yellow belly. Orange-red crown patch is usually concealed. Juvenile has brownish tinge on breast, and paler yellow belly.

Bird Map

Habitat: Found in a variety of edge habitats and open areas such as shelterbelts, ranches, orchards, woodland margins, and tree-lined urban areas.

Where in Nebraska: Common spring and fall migrant and summer resident almost statewide. Becomes less common eastwardly. Regular breeder.

Field Notes: Often seen attacking crows and other large birds while defending its nest or young.

Fun Facts: The Western Kingbird defends a loose territory often getting smaller and smaller as the incubating eggs develop, ultimately it only includes only the nest tree.

Western Kingbird - photo by Phil Swanson Western Kingbird - photo by Phil Swanson
(click image for larger view)