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Eastern Kingbird, Steve Ogle
Photo © Steve Ogle

Photo: Steve Ogle
Breeding evidence - Eastern Kingbird
Breeding evidence
Probability of observation - Eastern Kingbird
Probability of observation
Elevation plot - Eastern Kingbird
Elevation plot

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Eastern Kingbird
Tyrannus tyrannus
Landscape associations:

Click on plot to view table of mean abundance
Elevation range:
8 - 1213 m
Conserv. status:
Not at risk
Global importance
of B.C. population:
Number of squares
ConfirmedProbablePossiblePoint counts
131 149 201 119
Long-term BBS trends
RegionYearsTrend (conf. interv.) Reliab.
Brit. Col.1970 - 2012 0.063 (-2.51 - 1.78)Medium
Canada1970 - 2012 -2.09 (-2.86 - -1.52)Medium

Mean abundance by region

Bird Conservation Regions [plot]
NW Interior ForestBoreal Taiga PlainsGreat BasinNorthern RockiesN. Pacific Rainforest
 0.03 0.090.12 0.08
Ecoprovinces [plot]
N. Boreal Mountains Taiga Plains Boreal Plains Georgia Depression Sub-Boreal Interior
 0.04 0.030.08  
S. Interior Mountains Central Interior Southern Interior S. Alaska Mountains Coast & Mountains
0.120.13 0.09   

Mean abundance by habitat [plot]

Boreal Altai Fescue AlpineBoreal White and Black SpruceBunchgrassCoastal Douglas-fir
Coastal Mountain-heather AlpineCoastal Western HemlockEngelmann Spruce -- Subalpine FirInterior Cedar -- Hemlock
 0.08 0.09
Interior Douglas-firInterior Mountain-heather AlpineMontane SpruceMountain Hemlock
Ponderosa PineSpruce -- Willow -- BirchSub-Boreal Pine -- SpruceSub-Boreal Spruce
0.07 0.18 

Characteristics and Range Noticeable as it hawks for insects, no other North American flycatcher is entirely blackish-gray above and white below. The Eastern Kingbird has the most extensive breeding range of all North American flycatchers, from the Pacific Northwest east to the Atlantic and Caribbean coasts (Murphy 1996). A neotropical, long-distance migrant, this species leaves behind its aggressive "tyrant" nesting behaviour and winters in South America, primarily in Amazonia, where it feeds on berries in large, social flocks.

Distribution, Abundance, and Habitat Atlas results showed that the Eastern Kingbird bred quite widely in the southern and central interior of British Columbia, particularly in the Okanagan and Thompson-Nicola regions, with clusters on the Cariboo and Fraser Plateaus and along the Southern Rocky Mountain Trench. There was also a population cluster in the Peace and Fort Nelson river lowlands. The Atlas distribution was similar to that when The Birds of British Columbia was published, but the Atlas confirmed breeding in the upper Skeena River drainage, farther northwest than was previously known, and failed to record any breeding on Vancouver Island.

The Probability of Observation map combined with the point count data highlighted the importance of the floors of the valley systems of the Southern Interior, Central Interior and Southern Interior Mountains ecoprovinces; in the northeast, PObs and abundance values were much lower. Abundance was highest from 250-500 m, corresponding to the altitude where highest PObs values were mapped, and decreased steadily up to the highest elevation it was recorded, in the Rocky Mountains at 1,250 m. The core of the British Columbia Population remains in the Southern Interior and Southern Interior Mountains (Campbell et al. 1997).

Open environments, such as fields with scattered shrubs and trees, orchards, woodland edges, riparian woodlands, and similar edges of wetlands, are preferred nesting habitats.

Conservation and Recommendations There has been a significant decrease in Canadian populations since 1970 (Environment Canada 2011) but this is not reflected in British Columbia (Environment Canada 2014). Habitat loss and degradation due to urbanization, intensive agriculture, and forest regeneration are likely contributing to the current decline in Eastern Kingbird populations (Murphy 1996).

Art Martell

Recommended citation: Martell, A. 2015. Eastern Kingbird in Davidson, P.J.A., R.J. Cannings, A.R. Couturier, D. Lepage, and C.M. Di Corrado (eds.). The Atlas of the Breeding Birds of British Columbia, 2008-2012. Bird Studies Canada. Delta, B.C. [28 May 2024]

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