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Couch's Kingbird

Tyrannus couchii

Length: 9.25 inches Wingspan: 15 inches Seasonality: Non-resident in South Dakota
ID Keys: Bright yellow underparts, olive-green back, brownish wings and tail, gray head

Couch's Kingbird - Tyrannus couchiiCouch's Kingbird is one multiple, similar Kingbird species of the southwest.  They are virtually identical in appearance to the Tropical Kingbird, and until the 1980s, were considered a subspecies of the Tropical Kingbird.  The two species are only safely told apart by voice.  Range of the two species overlaps in Mexico, but in the United States, Tropical Kingbirds are mostly found in southern Arizona, while Couch's Kingbirds are found in southern Texas.  In recent years, however, Tropical Kingbirds have also been found in southern Texas.

Habitat: Found in riparian woodlands, brushland and thickets, and woodland edges.

Diet: Feeds on insects and spiders, but will also occasionally feed on fruits and berries.

Behavior: Forages by observing from a perch, and flying out to capture insects in midair, or by hovering and gleaning insects from foliage and branches of vegetation. 

Nesting: The nest of Couch's Kingbird is a cup of sticks, weed stems, moss, leaves, and bark strips, placed on a tree branch.  The female usually lays 3 or 4 eggs, and she alone incubates them.  When the eggs hatch, both parents help feed the young.  The young fledge after about 16 days.

Song: Song of Couch's Kingbird is a series of high-pitched, nasal squeaks

Migration: Considered a permanent resident throughout most of their range.  In the U.S portion of their range in Texas, some are present at all seasons, but they are more common in summer, indicating some short-distance migration.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Couch's Kingbird sightings

Similar Species: In range, most similar to Tropical Kingbird and Western Kingbird.  There is also some small range overlap with the Cassin's Kingbird.

Conservation Status: Populations are found over a wide geographic area and appear to be increasing.  The IUCN lists Couch's Kingbird as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) BirdLife International - Couch's Kingbird

2) Animal Diversity Web - Couch's Kingbird

3) Texas Breeding Bird Atlas - Couch's Kingbird

Photo Information: Photo taken by Andy Reaggo and Crissy McClerran.


Click below for a higher-resolution map
Couch's Kingbird - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Non-resident in South Dakota

Additional Couch's Kingbird Photos (coming soon!!)