Eastern Kingbird

Tyrannus tyrannus
Range Map

Except in the Desert Southwest and the Great Basin, we find Eastern Kingbirds over most of the USA. These birds spend winters in South America, mostly in the upper Amazon Basin.

I met my first Eastern Kingbird near Saskatoon Lake in Alberta, Canada. I’ve since met them in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Texas.

Like most birds in the Kingbird clan, in defence of its breeding territory, it lives up to its tyrant name (tyrannus), making unrelenting assaults on birds such as large hawks and herons.

Today’s taxonomists regard the Eastern Kingbird as monotypic (i.e. there are no subspecies).

While visiting South Texas, I learned it is an ideal place to meet these birds during migration. They pass through a narrow strip of land along the Gulf of Mexico before disbursing over the rest of the North American continent. During these migrations, they often stop in locations like South Padre Island to refuel for the journey north.

Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming have provided me with encounters with Eastern Kingbirds. I took a 16,000 mile journey through North America in 2022, that included much of western Canada, and I met more of these birds. The trip also included a late September tour of south Texas, where I met south-bound migrating birds on South Padre Island.

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