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Thread: Kingbird ID

  1. #1

    Default Kingbird ID

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    I identified this bird as a Western Kingbird. This was April 30, 2017 at the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. I was fairly confident of my ID until I read about a Couch's Kingbird in McKinney earlier this year.

    I went to my books and tried to find the difference between the two. It seems the yellow breast is higher on the Couch's than on the Western Kingbird.

    Did I, in fact, see a Western Kingbird? If not, how can I tell the difference in the future?

    Thanks in advance,
    Chris

  2. #2

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    Hi Chris,
    The bird you photographed is a Western Kingbird. Significant differences to observe between a Western and a Couch's is how much of the belly and breast is yellow. As you saw in your fieldguide, the Couch's yellow extends almost to the neck where the Western's belly is yellow that fades to gray across the breast to the neck. Another very distinctive characteristic to look for is the tail. The Western has a square-tipped black tail while the Couch's has a notched brown tail. And lastly, but requires a closer view (with binoculars), is the bill size and shape. The Couch's bill is thick and stout, and its head is large in comparison to its body size. The Western has a more delicate-looking bill that we are used to seeing on flycatchers. If you see side-by-side photos you will see the size difference.
    Also take into account the habitat. Couch's prefer scrub and forests with nearby water. The Western prefers drier scrubland which explains why se see them so often in shopping plaza parking lots.
    As the mild temperature season expands northward we may start to see more Couch's.
    Jim Jones
    Bedford, TX

  3. #3

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    Jim,

    Thanks for your detailed reply. I hope that someday, I'll be a little more independent. For know, I'm grateful for the knowledge and tips you have passed along! I'll look for those differences in my field guide so I can remember them in the future.

    Chris

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