Photo: Rolf Nussbaumer/Vireo

Couch's Kingbird

Tyrannus couchii

This Texas specialty is almost identical to the Tropical Kingbird, and was considered a race of that species until the 1980s. However, their voices are quite different, and they live side by side in eastern Mexico without interbreeding. Couch's Kingbirds are common around woodland edges and near ponds and rivers in southern Texas during the summer, and a few remain all winter there.
Conservation status Numbers in Texas probably stable. In Mexico, may have increased in some areas with partial clearing of forest, decreased in other areas where clearing has been total.
Family Tyrant Flycatchers
Habitat River groves, scattered trees. In southern Texas, found mainly in native woodland near rivers, also in dense brushland or chaparral, especially near water. May also occur around larger trees in towns. In Mexico, found in semi-open country, roadsides, forest edges.
This Texas specialty is almost identical to the Tropical Kingbird, and was considered a race of that species until the 1980s. However, their voices are quite different, and they live side by side in eastern Mexico without interbreeding. Couch's Kingbirds are common around woodland edges and near ponds and rivers in southern Texas during the summer, and a few remain all winter there.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages mostly by watching from a perch, then flying out to capture insects, returning to perch to eat them. Many insects are caught in mid-air; also hovers briefly while taking them from foliage, and may swoop down to take insects from just above (or on) the ground.


Eggs

3-4, sometimes 5. Pinkish to warm buff, blotched with brown and lavender. Details of incubation not well known, but probably by female, a little over 2 weeks. Young: Probably both parents feed young. Age of young at first flight not well known, probably between 2 and 3 weeks.


Young

Probably both parents feed young. Age of young at first flight not well known, probably between 2 and 3 weeks.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet is not known in detail, but apparently feeds mostly on insects, including large ones such as beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, and large flies. Also eats some berries and small fruits.


Nesting

Nesting behavior is not well known, probably similar to that of Tropical Kingbird. Adults are aggressive in chasing larger birds away from the vicinity of the nest. Nest site is usually on horizontal limb of tree, 8-25' above the ground. Nest (probably built by female) is a bulky flat cup of twigs, leaves, Spanish moss, weeds, and strips of bark, lined with fine materials such as plant down, rootlets, and softer parts of Spanish moss.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Present all year in southern Texas, but more common in summer; winter numbers are variable. Rarely strays north along Gulf Coast; accidental east to Florida.

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Migration

Present all year in southern Texas, but more common in summer; winter numbers are variable. Rarely strays north along Gulf Coast; accidental east to Florida.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
A series of queer notes, followed by puit-puwit-puwit-pawitcheew. Call a short kip.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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