The western kingbird is mostly found in open country around ranches and towns. A large flycatcher (8-9.5 in.long ), it perches upright on tall weeds, exposed branches, or wires before sweeping forward on 15-16.5 in. to catch insects in mid-air.
The head and back are pale grey, the neck is white and underparts yellow. The outer tailfeathers are white and a small red stripe, which is seldom seen marks the top of the head.
These birds are somewhat social since two or more pairs have been found nesting in the same tree,but they will attack hawks, crows, ravens, and other birds that fly near their nest.
Nests are usually in cottonwood, oak, sycamore, and willow trees, on utility poles, water towers and barns: made of weed stems, twigs, and string, they are lined with sheep's wool, cotton, hair, and feathers.
Four eggs are laid between April and July, incubation is usually 12-14 days, and fledglings can usually fly about 14 days after hatching.
This account was prepared by April Morris, a biology major at California State University, Bakersfield, May 1996.