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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Eastern Kingbird -- Tyrannus tyrannus


RANGE: Breeds from southwestern and north-central British Columbia, southern Mackenzie, and central Manitoba to southern Quebec and New Brunswick, south to northeastern California, northern Utah, northwestern and central New Mexico, the Gulf Coast, and Florida. Winters in South America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Frequents open areas with scattered trees or tall shrubs; forest edges or hedgerows along pastures, swamps, marshes, fields, or highways; open country around orchards; brushy streamsides; and sometimes open woodlands.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Open habitats with perches for flycatching.

NEST: Often builds nest over water on a tree limb well away from the main trunk, or occasionally in shrubs or on an artificial structure, locating nest 10 to 20 feet, but sometimes 2 to 60 feet, above the ground. Builds nest in the crotch of a tree, on top of a dead stub, or on a fence post if no trees are available. In New England, frequently nests in the upper horizontal limbs of apple trees.

FOOD: Consumes over 200 kinds of insects and more than 40 kinds of fruits, catching most insects by hawking from a perch.

REFERENCES: Beal 1912, Bent 1942, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Terres 1980.


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