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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

Western Kingbird -- Tyrannus verticalis

RANGE: Breeds from southern interior British Columbia to southern Manitoba and western Minnesota south to Baja California, Mexico, and southern and south-central Texas; rarely or sporadically eastward to southern Ontario, Missouri, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Winters in small numbers along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts from South Carolina to southern Florida and west to southern Louisiana; and from Mexico to Central America.

STATUS: Common.

HABITAT: Occurs in almost any open habitat with scattered trees at low to moderate elevations, especially in agricultural regions. Commonly occurs near edge habitats such as shelterbelts, woodland borders, orchards, and hedgerows.

NEST: Builds nests in a variety of sites but prefers trees, when available. May nest against the trunk, in a crotch, or on a horizontal branch 8 to 40 feet above the ground in cottonwoods, oaks, sycamores, willows and other trees; if no trees are available, nests in bushes, on utility poles, or a variety of structures.

FOOD: Flycatches from a perch on poles, fence posts, or tree tops in open areas for a variety of insects; also eats millipedes, spiders, and some fruits.

REFERENCES: Beal 1912, Bent 1942, Hespenheide 1964, Johnsgard 1979, Ohlendorf 1974, Terres 1980, Terrill in Farrand 1983b.

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