Introduction to Couch’s kingbird
- Couch’s Kingbird is one of multiple, lookalike Kingbird species of the southwest. They’re virtually identical in appearance to the Tropical Kingbird, and until the 1980s, were considered a subspecies of the Tropical Kingbird.
- These species are only safely told apart by voice. The range of the double species overlaps not only in Mexico, but within the United States(US). Tropical Kingbirds are commonly found in southern Arizona, while Couch’s Kingbirds are seen mostly in southern Texas. In present times, however, Tropical Kingbirds have also been discovered in southern Texas.
Color Pattern and Behavior
- Watches for flying insects from a perch in a tree, then flies out to capture them in midair with the bill. Also plucks insects and fruit from vegetation while hovering or perched.
- Couch’s kingbird is about 7 inches long.
- A yellow-breasted bird with a pale gray head, whitish throat, and gray-brown to slightly greenish upperparts. Dark bill and legs.
Range and Habit
- They range from the mid-Texas coast and Tamaulipas south along with eastern Mexico into the whole Yucatan Peninsula including Belize and northern Guatemala. It is found mostly in scrubby woodland, forests and forest edges, savannas, brushy stream-side thickets, plantations and fence-rows. In Yucatan, they’re common in scrubby interior forests and uncommon in arid beach scrub.
- Nests and winters in wooded areas with plenty of edges and openings, including suburbs, wooded stream edges, taller thorn forest, fruit groves, and agricultural areas with tall trees.
- The Couch bird is extremely kind of like the more widespread Tropical Kingbird. The two were considered the identical species for nearly 100 years, but they can be separated by voice and very subtle morphological characters.
- Couch’s kingbird can easily be confused with the tropical kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), which is extremely similar. In fact, Couch’s kingbird actually used to be the same species as the tropical kingbird until 1979.
- The easiest way to distinguish between the two species is to listen for their call: Couch’s kingbird has a raspier, more complex call that is more varied in pitch. In addition, Couch’s kingbird lives in a more wooded environment than the tropical kingbird, which lives in a more open environment.
- The name of this bird immortalizes the naturalist and soldier Darius N. Couch. A group of kingbirds are collectively called a “coronation”, “court”, and “tyranny” of kingbirds.
Greenfinch in habitat
- The Couch bird features a large range, estimated globally at 490,000 square kilometers. It’s native to Belize, Mexico, US, and Guatemala and prefers forest, shrubland, and grassland ecosystems, though it has been known to reside in plantations and concrete areas. The worldwide population of this bird is estimated at 1,700,000 individuals and it doesn’t seem to satisfy population decline criteria that may
- necessitate inclusion on the IUCN Red List. This current evaluation status of Couch’s Kingbird is Least Concern.
Diet and feeding
- Kingbird is generally an insectivore; however, can also be a frugivore, eating small berries and seeds. They typically eat larger insects like–but not limited to–beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, and large flies. Besides this, their diet is generally unknown because of the lesser volume of birders noting this bird’s behaviors.
- The feeding attitude of Couch’s Kingbird involves mostly perching and watching its environs for insect movement. It gets its prey mid-air, drifting above, or by quickly plummeting down.
STATUS of kingbird
- Lockwood and Freeman 2004 characterize Couch’s Kingbird as a standard to uncommon summer resident within the lower Rio Grande valley and locally uncommon further north within the South Texas Brush Country.
- The North American Breeding Bird Survey detected this species on 21 routes in Texas and a route in Zapata County averaged 8 kingbirds per annum.
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