Thick-Billed Kingbird

Tyrannus crassirostris

In the United States, Thick-Billed Kingbirds are fairly common (but localized) breeders. We find them in southeastern Arizona and extreme southwestern New Mexico, as well as south into northern Sonora. We also find them through the western and western-coastal ranges in Mexico, south to western Guatemala. They usually occur in arid or partly arid regions near riparian canyons, or open areas near water. We typically see them along intermittent streams and rivers with broad floodplains near riparian woodland edges. These birds are fond of cottonwood and sycamore woodlands.

Like other kingbirds, they forage in open habitats and capture insects on aerial hawking flights. They make a nest on a tree branch in tall trees, usually close to the trunk at least twenty feet high. The female lays three to five eggs. Little has been published on nearly all aspects of their life history. Despite the lack of published information, it is likely their biology is similar to that of other kingbirds, such as the Cassin’s Kingbird.

Over most of their range, they are mostly resident on their territories year round. But most of the birds in the United States will retreat southward for the winter.

Taxonomists recognise two subspecies.

  • T. c. pompalis lives in the southern USA in extreme southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico. We also find them in western Mexico on the Pacific slope in northern Sonora, western Chihuahua, Sinaloa and western Durango south to Colima.
  • T. c. crassirostris lives in southwestern Mexico in Guerrero, Morelos, southern Puebla, western and central Oaxaca. They spend winters in southwestern Chiapas, and rarely western Guatemala.

I have only met one of these birds. In 2023, I was visiting The Paton Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia (Arizona) while a Thick-Billed Kingbird hawked insects from a distant perch. I would have liked the bird to be closer, try as I might, I could not will the bird to come near.

Range Map for Thick-Billed Kingbird
Range Map

4 Photos

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