Our Western Kingbirds Have Returned To Northern Utah

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Western Kingbird adult on nest, Antelope Island State Park, Davis County, UtahWestern Kingbird adult on nest – Nikon D7100, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light (2014)

Two days ago when I stopped to use the restroom before dawn off of I-15 I thought I saw two Western Kingbirds chasing each other in the trees at the rest area, I couldn’t hear them over the idling semi trucks and the noise from the interstate but they were the right shape and flew the way I have come to expect these kingbirds to fly. Even though I felt I couldn’t positively identify those two birds as Western Kingbirds I hoped I would see some that morning because I like these noisy tyrant flycatchers. And they are noisy!

Listen to a Western Kingbird calling here.

In addition to being noisy they are very active birds and a challenge to photograph plus they will attack much larger birds that come any where near their nests. They are more colorful than their cousins the Eastern Kingbirds because of their yellow bellies.

Juvenile Western Kingbird begging an adult for food, Box Elder County, UtahJuvenile Western Kingbird begging an adult for food – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light (2015)

I did see a Western Kingbird two days ago but the only photos I have of that bird were taken on a barbed wire fence and I have more of those type of images than I know what to do with and nothing about those images were appealing, unique or all that interesting. I am hoping that I am able to take more images of these kingbirds while they are here this year for their breeding season.

Still, I was excited to spot the kingbirds two days ago. Even though our weather has been crazy with days in the upper 70’s then snow on the ground the next morning and temps have been bouncing around like a loony ball the spring migrants are arriving daily.

Life is good.

Mia

8 Comments

  1. Pepe Forte April 20, 2018 at 11:21 pm

    Mia, I am convinced that you have the eyes of an eagle. How else could you first spot…then capture images of these beautiful birds. And your narrative, as always, is great. Thanks.

  2. Elephants Child April 20, 2018 at 1:58 pm

    How lovely to see and hear these delights.
    I have a very soft spot for the small birds which punch well above their weight.

  3. Utahbooklover April 20, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Great image at the top, and I enjoyed the sound link too. Found more on this at allaboutbirds.org:
    SONGS
    Though it’s not technically in the group of birds known as songbirds, the Western Kingbird has one call that functions as a song. Starting just before sunrise, breeding males perch on tree limbs or wires and give a rising series of sharp kips, culminating in a frantic burst of loud descending notes. Each call lasts about 2 seconds, and the male may repeat the pattern for half an hour to proclaim his territory.

    CALLS
    Western Kingbirds give sharp kip notes and squeaky twitters. The male gives a harsh, buzzing call when attacking predators or other kingbirds.

  4. Patty Chadwick April 20, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Both shots are winners..liked hearing their matingcall….they include a little bit of everything…trills, sqawks, songs…all kinds of sounds…..

  5. Jorge H. Oliveira April 20, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Hi Mia,
    Although I don’t comment very often I read your posts every day and I enjoy them very much. I pay special attention to your settings because I also have a Nikon D 500. And I think there is something wrong about those settings on the first image.
    Wish you a pleasant week end.

    • Mia McPherson April 20, 2018 at 6:36 am

      Jorge, thank you for your comment on my post and about the settings, I have fixed them, my mouse must have jumped around when I was typing those out! I’d love to have a 40000mm lens though! LOL

  6. Liz Cormack April 20, 2018 at 6:31 am

    Beautiful bird…..prettier than our tuxedo’ed Eastern Kingbirds.

    • Mia McPherson April 20, 2018 at 6:41 am

      Thanks Liz, I think both species of kingbirds have their own beauty. We do get Eastern Kingbirds here but I don’t think nearly as many as the Westerns so I get excited when I see them too!

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