Plate 5: Kingbird

Tyrannus tyrannus

Nests & Eggs: Kingbird

Bold and fearless, kingbirds prefer to live in close proximity to dwellings.

The Eastern Kingbird, although slightly smaller than a Robin, is “monarch of all he surveys,” and is ready and willing to defend his territory against all comers. His happiest moments seem to be spent in chasing hawks, crows, herons or vultures and he is the first to see their approach and give the alarm. Then, like a fighter-plane, he speeds high in the air and dives on the intruder. Such aerial attacks are of short duration for the larger bird soon escapes to a safer location. He then drops back to his favorite perch, often using such quick wing-beats that he seems to be tip-toeing thru the air.

This flycatcher with his white breast, dark head, back and wings, and black tail with white terminal band, is identified easily. He likes to nest around farm homes or other open country but wants a few open spots where he can perch while waiting for passing insects. People who raise bees often refer to him as a “bee-martin,” and accuse him of eating honeybees. There is little ground for this accusation for only 22 stomachs of 634 examined showed a total of 61 bees eaten and 51 of the total were drones. On the other hand, this bird eats robber flies which catch and destroy bees. Eighty-five per cent of his food consists of insects which includes grasshoppers, crickets and cutworms.

Introduction to Our Bird Friends, Vol I
  • Print out the notebooking pages provided below.
  • Read the The Kingbird story in Bird Biographies out loud.
  • Have a younger student orally narrate what was read. He can then copy a few lines of his narration onto the notebooking pages.
  • Older students can read the text, Plate V: Kingbird, and provide a written narration.
  • Sketch the bird. This encourages attention to detail, which will aid in identifying the bird later on. Another option is to use the printables provided below.
  • Sketch the nest of the bird, along with the eggs. Note where the nest is usually found.
  • Older students can include the taxonomy.
  • Learn more about the Eastern Kingbird at Cornell.
  • On one notebooking page note the facts:
    • Description.
    • Habitat.
    • Range.
    • Food.
    • Nest.
    • Eggs.
    • Call.
  • The Catbird is covered in The Burgess Bird Book: CHAPTER VII. The Watchman of the Old Orchard.
Additional Resources

30 Narration Ideas
At some point you might appreciate some variety.

The Bird Study sections of our free nature study series: Our Wonderful World:

Free Nature Studies: Our Wonderful World
Printables & Notebooking Pages

Kingbird Notebooking Pages
Free simple notebooking set.

Bird picture for notebook.

Scrapper the Kingbird
Corresponding print from The Burgess Bird Book.

Kingbird Range Map
For notebook from Cornell.

Bird Facts Notebooking Page
One option in a more graphic organizer style that is especially nice for noting the facts and range.

Enjoy the entire series:

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