Wednesday, October 10, 2012

NW rarity: Tropical Kingbird

Tropical Kingbird
Tropical Kingbird. Newport, Oregon. October 6, 2012. Photo by Greg Gillson.
This past weekend I was along the coast when I received word of a nearby Tropical Kingbird. I arrived just before sunset as the last rays of the orange setting sun illuminated this bird.

A native of Mexico and Central America, breeding birds barely reach SE Arizona. Thus, many birders in the Pacific Northwest are surprised to learn that this bird is regular along the coast of the Pacific NW every October and November. Typically, a half dozen or more are reported from the Oregon coast every autumn.

Each year members of this species undertake a post-breeding dispersal that brings them along the coast of Texas, the Rio Grande, northern Baja, and the West Coast from California to British Columbia. A few birds then also winter in southern California.

To find these birds in the Northwest look in open areas along the immediate coastline. Estuary edges, golf courses, parks with open areas and scattered trees, and vacant lots in town are all habitats where you might find this rare bird. They perch in the open on wires and trees, often quite still for long periods, as in the accompanying photos.

In the Pacific NW they are similar to Western Kingbirds but the yellow breast extends higher and the head is not as pale gray down onto the upper breast as the Western Kingbird. Tropical Kingbird has a blackish notched tail, while Western Kingbird's square black tail has contrasting white outer tail feathers.

Tropical Kingbird
Tropical Kingbird. Newport, Oregon. October 6, 2012. Photo by Greg Gillson.


1 comment:

  1. Very cool! They recently had one in Utah and Idaho had one years ago, but I'm hoping to see one for myself. Send it my way! Glad you were able to see it and photo document it with beautiful images too!

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