By Dave Hanks

The Flycatcher family is large, and it is sometimes hard to differentiate between the various species. This is not so with the Eastern Kingbird. This Flycatcher family member has a distinctive black head and back with a satiny white throat, belly, and band on the end of its tail. It is 8 to 9 inches long. Once acquainted with this species, you will never have any more doubts as to its identity.

This is an open country bird that prefers to be close to water. In fact, it will often construct a nest on a stump in the water that is away from the shoreline. Other nests are large and bulky and built on horizontal limbs out of grass and twigs. Three to five white spotted eggs are laid, which take two week to hatch. Their diet consists of some fruit but mainly insects. Insects are captured after the bird hovers - swoops down and pounces.

A sharp “dzee” or “dsect” is their call and like all kingbirds, perch upright. Eastern Kingbirds are fearless and will not tolerate larger bird species – harassing them if they get too close to the nest area.

In our travels, we often encounter this bird sitting on fence posts or other low perches along the roadside. At times they may be flighty, but at other times quite calm and approachable. Contrary to the name eastern, they come to our area in the warm months. A session with this most attractive fellow always brightens our day.

(Resting on an old, dried-out thistle)