Friday, June 15, 2012

Fklycatcher Weekend! Eastern Kingbirds & Phoebes

An Eastern Kingbird reflecting the rising sun light, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/20/2012.
Eastern Kingbirds (Above) were one of the first of several Flycatchers to arrive back to Northern Illinois. They were present everywhere by the first week of May. As far as my records (unofficial) show the only Flycatcher that arrives before May is the Eastern Phoebe (Two photos Below), which I see even by the end of March.
Eastern Phoebe, Rock Cut State Park; 6/13/2012.

A smaller Eastern Phoebe, Rock Cut State Park; 4/23/2011.
Both the Phoebe (Above) and the Kingbird (Below) are summer residents of Northern Illinois, and stretch their summer range into Canada as far west as Alberta for the Phoebe, and British Columbia for the Kingbird. So thier "Eastern" moniker doesn't mean they can only be found in the east. The Phoebe will migrate to the southeastern corner of the U.S. especially around the Gulf States and mexico. Whereas, the Kingbird will migrate further south into Central and South America.
Another Eastern Kingbird, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/5/2012.
At 8 1/2" long, E. Kingbirds are also one of the larger Flycatchers that make their residence in the Eastern half of the U.S. There are plenty of larger Flycatchers, but most of them reside in the Western half of the U.S.
Another Eastern Kingbird, Rock Cut State Park, Rockford, IL; 5/20/2012.
These Flycatchers are relatively easy to spot. They like to sit on open branches always searching for insects. I find them most often on tree branches or bushes that overhang a river or lake. They fly out catching insects and frequently return to their same perch. I have also seen them out in open grassy fields that have a few trees to use for their perches. Other than their larger size, they are also easier to identify than the other smaller Eastern flycatchers by the white tail tips and weak wing bars.
An Eastern Phoebe, Rock Cut State Park; 7/21/2010.
Eastern Phoebes (Above), at 7" long, are smaller than its Kingbird cousin, and are more often found in the woods, but also I have seen them very routinely along a boardwalk over a cattail marsh, on the eastern edge of Pierce Lake, near the edge of woodland.

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