Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus)

Eastern kingbird

Eastern kingbird./Tom Berriman

General: This handsome flycatcher has a blue-gray back and black wings, which contrast with a white throat, belly, and tail tip. Biologists consider the Eastern kingbird "an early successional habitat generalist," recognizing its use of a range of habitats including old fields, shrubby openings, and grassy areas with widely spaced trees and shrubs. Throughout the species' range, habitats with shrubs and young trees are important breeding areas, as kingbirds usually site their nests in low woody vegetation. Kingbirds eat many insects, a type of food provided abundantly in young forest and shrubland habitats.

Status: Although Eastern kingbirds are considered common throughout most of their range, Breeding Bird Survey data indicate a significant population decrease during recent years, especially in the Northeast. Studies suggest that humans' development of land and the maturing of young forest and shrub habitats into older woodland pose major longterm threats to the population.

How to Help Eastern Kingbirds: Increase the amount of habitat available to this species by using management practices that thin the forest canopy in wooded areas and encourage the growth of shrubs and dense herbaceous plants. Such practices include timber harvesting, controlled burning, and mowing older shrubs when they get old and straggling, stimulating them to grow back more densely.

Both public and private landowners can make this kind of habitat. The Young Forest Guide explains how.

Click on the map at left to see a larger image.

For more detailed information on this animal, including references to scientific papers, download Under Cover: Wildlife of Shrublands and Young Forest. This publication can also be purchased from the Wildlife Management Institute.

Visit a habitat demonstration area within this species' range to increase your chances of seeing eastern kingbirds and other young forest wildlife.