I am officially an owner of an empty shell of a body. Tonight’s run was quite the struggle with the gas running out at the 2 mile mark. Forced my way to a total of 8 miles but there were some dark side of the moon moments that made me think back to the last section of my Marathon. Pretty much overdid it digging the trench yesterday. Not good seeing as how I have a training run in the Quad Cities this Thursday evening prepping for the Bix 7 later in the month. Tomorrow just might be a take it easy day (for the record, I HATE those days). I promised another update today so broken body and all (ha), I’m here to serve. Today I bring you a collection of shots of the Eastern Kingbird.
These first two were taken at Lake Andes in South Dakota. We were passing through on our way to Yellowstone National Park back in May of 2013. The Eastern Kingbird happens to be one of those species that is easy to identify in the field… even if you are not a seasoned birder. They have a fairly slim profile with a brilliant white underbelly up through the neck. This contrast with the black overcoat (some say it wears a business suite) is easily recognizable from afar – especially when spotted in their preferred marshy habitat. Similar to the Phoebes and Flycatchers, these birds put a serious hurt on the insect population wherever they roam. Watch them for a bit and you will see them dart out from their perch, do some amazing acrobatic moves and return to their starting point with the fruits of their labor clinched tightly in their beaks (like in the shot above).
Oh, I should probably point out there is another easy way to identify them in the field. If you check the shot above you will notice their tail feathers look like they were dipped in white paint. This is usually my first identifying mark depending on the viewing angle.
Hit the jump to see a few more shot so the King.
Next up is another Eastern Kingbird taken at the International Crane Foundation back in March of 2013. When you are done viewing the cool Cranes, head down into the fields to the North of the exhibits and check out their marsh area. Every single time we have been there, there has been a Kingbird hanging out on the reeds and cattails.
When done shooting that area, take a walk on their trails that head out to the West and wrap around to the North. I had no idea just how much land they have at the Foundation beyond their exhibit area. The trails are nicely maintained and weave in out of different settings including prairie, deep woods and tangles. This variety gives ample opportunity to spot numerous species.
Oops, it spotted me! Time to move along.
Proving that the Kingbird loves to hang out with the 5 ft cranes in the area, here is another shot from the International Crane Foundation. This one is a little more recent being from the July 2015 time frame. Unlike the previous ones, we didn’t even have to brave the marsh mosquitoes for this one. Nope, it was just hanging out on top of an exhibit fence. “That’s right, I’m the King of these here parts.”
This is probably one of my favorite shots of the Kingbird. You can see all of the key features including the dipped tail. It also gives a better view of the talons that surely help it ward off intruders in their territory. According to our friends at Cornell, these Kingbirds have no issues with taking on any sized birds that dare challenge it for the local food supply including Crows and Great Blue Herons. I wonder if they display this same bully trait to the huge Cranes at the foundation – guessing those Cranes would duck their heads and punt any overconfident Kingbird all the way to the parking lot. One last tidbit, they Winter in the forests of South America but spend their Summers across much of North America.
Oh no, out of pictures. Probably for the best, I need to wrap this up and go foam roll my legs. Although not a new bird to the blog (link here), hope you enjoyed seeing some new shots. Take it easy, see you again real soon.
2 thoughts on “Here Comes the King”
Yes, Eastern Kingbirds are awesome birds. The first time I saw one was when you pointed one out to me in a field at Allerton Park near Champaign. Now I take pictures of them whenever I see them (like I did today), and they never disappoint.
Speaking of fields, I was surprised that you referred to marshy areas as their preferred habitat, as it seems I see them in prairies and in trees at edges of fields. Here’s what Cornell says:
“Eastern Kingbirds breed in open habitats such as yards, fields, pastures, grasslands, or wetlands, and are especially abundant in open places along forest edges or water.”
I don’t know what habitat they prefer, but they do get around. I did not know they are aggressive–that’s surprising given their appearance of grace.
In addition to the last pic (definitely the best one), I really like the third pic and was surprised I didn’t see your Eddiesoft watermark on that one when I got to it.
I know what you mean, I’m really wiped out after typing this comment. I’m a hollow shell now. I’ll have to take an easy day tomorrow, too, like you.
Thanks for the pics of one of my favorite birds!
You went birding today! hmmm, I was totally wore out after our marathon birding session at Weldon Springs – I need to get in shape. I didn’t recall I pointed this bird out to you – cool.
You know, I should probably amend that statement. You are correct, I do find them in marshes a lot, by you are correct in that they also hang out in fields. I think the key is anywhere they have an abundance of insects to fill their bellies. I’ve just been to a lot of marshes and they are always there where there are times I’ve scouted out the prairies and not a one is found. Sort of like Bob-O-Links – those dudes are never around when I’m in the fields except you did lead me to a bunch of them at Midewin.
You mean the EddieSoft Photography mark (they all have an EddieSoft mark on them). You are letting a secret out of the bag, but I am guessing they didn’t get the official mark due to a zoom requirements. Sometimes I have to bring them in depending on how far away they were – this ends up reducing pixels to a point I do not have enough to really enlarge to the print sizes people like (and we like to sell). As a result they only get the basic watermark.
To put things into perspective, I just got back from running 7 miles in the Quad Cities hills, but didn’t want to ignore your comments another day so crawled up the stairs, hauled myself up into my chair and got to work – like a spoon hitting Magic Shell, this body is hollow and broken … and tomorrow I have a date with a trench that needs a cleaning. Good news after that .. a long weekend vacation yeah!
I was not aware this was one of your favorite birds – how does this rate against a Scissor-Tail Flycatcher?