Tyrannus Tyrannus – Eastern Kingbird

Tyrannus Tyrannus - Eastern Kingbird found in the US

The eastern kingbird, Tyrannus tyrannus is a huge American tyrant flycatcher. The bird is primarily dark gray in color, with a white underside and angular wings. Eastern kingbirds are visible and are frequently found in open regions with scattered trees and bushes, where they forage for insects from perches. The eastern kingbird is a migratory species that breeds throughout North America and winters in Central and South America.

Quick Overview: Tyrannus Tyrannus – Eastern Kingbird
Body size: Around 8.5 in (22 cm) and a weight of 43 g (1.5 oz)
Main colors: Blue-Black, Black, White
Range: Throughout the United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Eastern kingbird Description

Large flycatcher with a blue-black back, wings, and a black tail with a white terminal band, as well as white underparts. When the bird is exhibiting, it has a black head with unnoticeable red crown feathers. Legs and feet are all blacks.

Tyrannus Tyrannus - Eastern Kingbird found in the US
Tyrannus Tyrannus – Eastern Kingbird. Photo by: Dennis Murphy


These birds have a length of 8.5 in (22 cm) and a weight of 43 g (1.5 oz). Their wings could range from 14-15 in (36-38 cm).


Eastern kingbirds feed on insects during the breeding season and on both insects and fruit during the rest of the year. Between May and September, insects account for 85 percent of the diet, which includes bees and wasps (Hymenoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), grasshoppers (Orthoptera), bugs (Hemiptera), and flies (Diptera). Hawking from a perch is the primary method of capturing insect prey. They dart out from perches in search of flying prey. Additionally, they will harvest insects from the water or from the ground by hovering or gleaning. Small prey is consumed quickly, whereas larger prey is returned to the perch and crushed until subdued before being consumed. Preference is given to larger prey. Fruit is also collected in flight while hovering or gleaning. Eastern kingbirds do not appear to be water drinkers.


Eastern kingbirds inhabit wide, savanna-like settings, frequently near bodies of water. They are found in pastures and grasslands where tall trees are distributed for breeding and perching. Parks, riparian forests, big burned areas, or blowouts in woods, golf courses, and suburban and urban areas also provide suitable habitats. Although little is known about their migratory behaviors, they are found in a diverse range of environments during their migration. In the winter, they inhabit forest edges, riparian forests, and areas adjacent to wetlands.


Eastern kingbirds rarely walk or hop; instead, they soar from location to location. They are swift and agile flyers who put on a variety of interesting aerial performances. During the breeding season, they are active during the day and vigorously defend territories. They are extremely intolerant of other birds’ presence and must overcome aggressive instincts in order to create the pair bond at the start of the mating season. They will not tolerate the presence of other eastern kingbirds in the vicinity and will harass other perching birds as well.

Tyrannus Tyrannus Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Tyrannus
  • Species: Tyrannus tyrannus

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Eastern kingbird in the USA

Breeds from British Columbia to the interior of Canada, then south to northern California, central Texas, the Gulf Coast, and Florida. Spends the coldest months of the year in the tropics.

The Eastern kingbird can be found in the following states in the United States – Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Tyrannus Tyrannus – Eastern Kingbird

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