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western kingbird

western kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)
Photo © Alan Murphy Photography

Features and Behaviors

The western kingbird is about eight and three-fourths inches long (tail tip to bill tip in preserved specimen). Most of the tail feathers are black, but those on the outside edges are white. Light-gray feathers are present on the head, breast and back. The throat feathers are white, and the belly feathers are pale yellow.

Spring migrants begin arriving in Illinois in April. The western kingbird may nest in the northern one-half of the state and in areas along the Mississippi River but not in great numbers. Fall migrants begin moving through the state in August. This species overwinters from southern Mexico to Costa Rica. It eats insects.

Illinois Range


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae

Illinois Status: common, native