Western Kingbird

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

Post #4 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 8/100.)

Western Kingbirds are Common Summer Visitors to California’s Central Valley and are one of the earliest returning Neotropic migrants usually arriving from Mexico and Central America in mid to late March. Their sudden appearance along country road fence lines is a sure sign that Spring has arrived.

Western Kingbird

Adult Western Kingbirds are typically seen perching on fence wires where they sally out to snatch flying insects. They are monomorphic (males and females have similar appearance), recognized by their yellow belly, all pale-gray chest and throat and gray-brown back. They will frequently flash their white outer tailfeathers as they fly out from their perch.

Western Kingbird

Western Kingbirds belong to the Tyrant Flycatcher family (Tyrannidae) and are one of 7 kingbirds found in the US. Of those 7 species, only 2 are regularly found in the Central Valley. The other kingbird found regularly in the Central Valley (much rarer) is the Cassin’s Kingbird. Cassin’s Kingbird has white-tipped tail feathers instead of the white-edges. It also has a darker gray chest and head with a bold white chin. Check out the comparison images below.

Left – Cassin’s Kingbird | Western Kingbird – Right

Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series,

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