Last weekend, I decided to go for a walk in the Highland Creek Park. In front of me was a marsh full of life: frogs creaking, herons in the trees, turtles sitting on logs, ducks paddling and the sounds of many babies demanding food. On a nearby dead tree branch on the edge of the water was a nest with three yellow beaks open. They were Eastern Kingbirds (Tyrannus tyrannus), a large Tyrant flycatcher. Close by were their parents at the top of the tree screaming.
I was too close to the nest, so I stepped back to watch the adults, as they (flew) went back and forth with food for the youngsters (bugs, spiders, seeds, and anything they could find to fill those hungry open mouths).
It has been said that the Eastern Kingbird does not merely sit and survey – the kingbird challenges the world with furious tirade with harsh explosive squeals. Having been around this bird it is every bit as fierce as it seems especially with young nearby. While protecting their young, the adult Eastern Kingbird will knock birds off branches, chase after hawks and crows and inflict as much punishment midair as possible.
The adults are grey-black on the upperparts with light underparts. The tail is stunning black with a white band across the tip, and long pointed wing. They have a seldom seen red patch on their crown. An Eastern Kingbird is 19–23 cm (7.5–9 in) in length, 33–38 cm (13–15 in) across the wings and weighing 33-55 g (1.2-1.9 oz).
You can find Eastern Kingbirds – on roadsides, woodland edges, orchards, marshes or on shrubs over open water. One note of interest – they migrate to South America in the winter.