Reverse Order

Western kingbirds (Tyrannus verticalis) usually return to our ranch about the 24th, 25th or 26th of April. Once Leonard and I hear and see the kingbirds, we know to begin watching for Bullock’s orioles (Icterus bullockii) and their May 1st arrival. As I noted in my previous post, this year the orioles arrived over a week earlier than usual on April 22nd. The kingbirds appeared right on schedule – April 24th. For the first time we can remember, the western kingbirds arrived before the Bullock’s orioles – reverse order.

Western kingbirds perch  on fences, trees, and utility lines in open habitats where they watch for insects, their main food. These grey birds with yellowish bellies are one of the first to begin singing in the morning and one of the last to sing at night.

These photographs were taken on our ranch near Lookout CA and across the road near Pilot Butte in Ash Creek Wildlife Area (Modoc County CA).

Now we are waiting until late-May to hear the first night hawk of the season.

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5 Responses to Reverse Order

  1. tonytomeo says:

    What is that juniper that the Western kingbird is in?

    • gingkochris says:

      It is a common western juniper (Juniperus occidentalis) on our property.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Oh, of course. It looks like the Eastern red cedar. I know Eastern red cedar lives in Oregon, either somehow naturalized, or somehow native. (Either way, it is impressive.) However, their range is too far to the north. I know they are only junipers, but I find them to be fascinating. I almost never see those that are native here; so I am amazed to see other species in other regions.

  2. It must be reassuring to welcome the return of the migrant spring birds and to hear their songs again.

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