Couch’s Kingbird

The Couch’s Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii) is a medium-sized bird of the tyrant flycatcher family. It measures around 8.5 inches in length, with a wingspan of about 15 inches. It weighs around 1.4 ounces. The male and female look alike, with olive-brown upperparts, pale gray throat and breast, and bright yellow belly. They have a large head with a broad, black mask that extends to the nape and a bushy crest on the top of the head.

One of the most distinguishing field marks of the Couch’s Kingbird is the broad, white terminal band on the tail feathers. The wings are blackish-brown with two pale wing bars, and the bill is long and stout with a dark upper mandible and a yellowish lower mandible. The eyes are dark, and the legs and feet are black. Juveniles have a similar appearance to adults but with buffier underparts and a shorter crest.

The Couch’s Kingbird is a resident bird throughout most of its range, which includes parts of the United States, Mexico, Central America, and South America. However, some populations from the northern part of the range, such as those in Arizona and New Mexico, migrate to southern Mexico and Central America during the winter months.

During the breeding season, Couch’s Kingbirds inhabit open woodlands, riparian areas, and scrubby habitats, and they are often seen perched on exposed branches, wires, or fence posts. They are territorial birds and will aggressively defend their nesting sites against other birds and even humans.

In addition to their insect diet, Couch’s Kingbirds are known to prey on small reptiles and amphibians, making them an important predator in their ecosystem. They are also known for their distinct vocalizations, which consist of a loud, clear, and rising “kip” note, often repeated in a rapid series. Overall, the Couch’s Kingbird is a fascinating bird that can be easily identified by its unique physical characteristics and behaviors.

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