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If there was ever a bird properly named, the Kingbird fits the bill.
This bird is absolutely fearless, when it comes to protecting its nest area. Although, the Red-winged Blackbird, the Common Grackle, and the Purple Martin all will frequently give chase to crows, hawks and vultures near their nests, none are quite as pugnacious and as dedicated as the Eastern Kingbird.
At times, while dive bombing these larger birds, the Kingbird appears momentarily actually to land on their fleeing backs, while adding a few hard pecks. They have even been known to dive bomb humans, if their intrusion is too close to the guarded nest.
This handsome nattily dressed bird has black upper parts and tail, with a white breast and a white band along the entire end of its tail. This Eastern Kingbird also has a red/orange patch on the top of the head that is seldom visible. You can see from the accompanying photograph, has a yellow mid-to-lower breast with a white throat along with a grayish back
These birds like to hang out in open to semi-open habitat with scattered trees, which they use for perches. Because Kingbirds are members of the flycatcher family, they will use these perches to capture various flying insects in the air.
Kingbirds spend the winter in South America, returning to Kentucky during the latter part of April. By early September, the Eastern Kingbird will be heading south again toward its wintering grounds.
Nest building is usually started by mid-May and the nest is located 2 to 60 feet above the ground on a limb well out from the trunk and, if over water, will probably be on the low end of the height spectrum.
The nest is a large, bulky cup with the exterior composed of weed stalks, grasses and mosses and is lined with fine grasses and plant down. Both sexes build the nest, with three to five eggs being and with incubation by the female alone, requiring 12 or 13 days, with only one brood per season.
This bird is 8.5 inches long and has a 15-inch wingspan. It frequently has other species as neighbors nesting in the same tree, which allows me to believe these other birds feel very comfortable knowing that the Kingbird will be there to help afford protection.
If you frequent western Kentucky, you might keep an eye out for the Western Kingbird, because this bird has been seen in that region.
It also has been found nesting in western Tennessee as well as southern Illinois, along the northern edge of the Ohio River, so it is just a matter of time until it will be found nesting in Kentucky as well.
Once you are fortunate enough to locate either species of the Kingbird family, spend time observing their bravery and tenacity toward much larger members of the bird world in the Great Outdoors.
To read more columns about birds by Horace Brown, visit www.SentinelNews.com/recreation. Horace Brown is a civil/sanitary engineer, land surveyor and nature photographer and writer. To contact him or order a copy of Brown’s 2013 Mysterious Night Birds Calendar, E-mail email@example.com, call 502-682-7711 or write 527 Main Street, Shelbyville 40065.