Juvenile Western Kingbirds in Box Elder County, Utah

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Last week while I was up in Box Elder County looking for birds I saw several juvenile Western Kingbirds begging to be fed by the adults that were nearby. I couldn’t get any decent images of the kingbird juveniles because of my distance from them and the fact that they were partially hidden by railings from a corral that was painted green but those juveniles did remind me of photos I had taken last year of some juvenile kingbirds next to a different country road in Box Elder County that I had never processed.

Juvenile Western Kingbird next to a country road, Box Elder County, UtahJuvenile Western Kingbird next to a country road – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Juvenile Western Kingbirds may look sweet like this one does perched on a fence but they can be rather pushy when it comes to demanding food from their parents and they are also quite noisy too while they are begging.

Curious Western Kingbird juvenile, Box Elder County, UtahCurious Western Kingbird juvenile – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

At this age the juvenile Western Kingbirds are beginning to learn to hunt on their own but the adult kingbirds still feed them because they miss more prey when they hunt than they catch. It is fun to watch them try though and I feel myself cheering them on when they dive towards the ground after prey.

Juvenile Western Kingbird perched on a fence in Box Elder County, UtahJuvenile Western Kingbird perched on a fence in Box Elder County – Nikon D500, f8, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Western Kingbird juveniles in these photos are just a little bit older than the ones I saw last week. I hope I will see more juveniles this summer that I can photograph while they beg and learn to hunt on their own where I don’t have to deal with the rails of a corral being in the way.

Life is good.


Some Western Kingbird facts and information:

  • Western Kingbirds are grayish on top, have whitish chests and throats, yellow bellies, black tails edged in white, large heads with heavy, straight bills.
  • Western Kingbirds are “tyrants” and will attack much larger birds that come near their nests.
  • Western Kingbirds are migratory.  They spend winters in southern Mexico and Central  America.
  • Western Kingbirds preferred habitats include overgrown fields, forest edges, desert shrub, savannas, pastures, open areas with scattered shrubs or trees, urban environments including golf courses and parks.
  • Western Kingbirds eat insects and on occasion they may consume fruit.
  • Western Kingbirds lay 3 to 7 eggs which hatch in 18 to 19 days. The female incubates and they are monogamous.
  • A group of kingbirds can be called a “court”, “tyranny” or “coronation” of kingbirds.
  • Western Kingbirds can live up to 6 years.


  1. Ken Schneider July 26, 2018 at 10:07 am

    Great images of the youngsters. Their begging behavior brings to mind that of a juvenile Loggerhead Shrike I saw last week. It attacked the parent and they actually fell to the ground as if locked in mortal combat, vocalizing loudly.

  2. Elephants Child July 25, 2018 at 1:45 pm

    The pushy, noisy, demanding youngsters is something which crosses species effortlessly. The beauty of these young ‘uns is amazing.

  3. Patty Chadwick July 25, 2018 at 11:27 am

    Wonderful photos, great detail…can even see the rictals…such pretty, subtlely colored little birds…hate that damned devil’s wite…so cruel, but thrn, humans are…(with some very good, very kind exceptions)….

  4. April Olson July 25, 2018 at 9:58 am

    I have noticed more kingbirds this year over last. What I see more of again this year is ringnecked pheasants, huge families of young. Perhaps they nest better in hot dry years?

  5. Greg Gillson July 25, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I am afraid I might lose track of my older photos. I immediately set to work on my photos and delete the bad ones. Good and “documentation” photos go on my eBird lists (and thus into Cornell’s Macaulay Online Library). Good and better photos go in my pBase online archive. Best and interesting photos get queued up for my blog. Then every few months I make sure to back up my photos on my external drive. Ooh, which reminds me…

  6. Bob mcpherson July 25, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Beautiful photos Mia.

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