Wild Birds


Kingbirds (genus Tyrannus)

Kingbirds (genus Tyrannus from “tyrant”) are vocal and fearless birds that aggressively defend their breeding territories, even chasing away much larger birds of prey, dogs, cats and humans.

They prefer semi-open or open areas; where they are often observed perching on an exposed branch with a large visibility range as it searches for flying insects to catch mid-air.

They have long pointed wings and large broad bills.

Kingbirds Perched on a Thorn Tree
Kingbirds Perched on a Thorn Tree


Diet / Feeding

Kingbirds mostly feed on insects, such as bees, wasps, beetles and dragonflies. They also eat small lizards. Depending on the season and availability, small fruits and berries make up as much as one fifth of their daily diet.

Unusual Feeding Behavior

Scientists observed a Loggerhead Kingbird capturing five small crabs on a beach in the Bahamas. The Kingbird captured the crab on the ground and returned to its perch. It then struck the crab repeatedly against the branch and then swallowed it.

Eastern Kingbird on the Leaves
Eastern Kingbird on the Leaves

This kingbird caught several crabs afterwards displaying the same behavior. Lefebore and Spahn also observed unusual feeding behavior in Spain, where kingbirds were capturing small fish.

Lefebore and Spahn (1987) and Wunderle (1981), therefore, suggest that “island flycatchers and kingbirds may broaden their diet opportunitistically by using typical foraging behavior to capture novel prey.”

Rene Odeide also observed some behavior that is unusual in this species. He noticed that they appeared to be foraging for food in a lake, which supports the above findings that this species may also be adapting its feeding habits to a changing environment.

He also saw them expelling something from their bills, which could be the indigestible parts of insects or other food items.


Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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