This afternoon was partly sunny, with strong west winds blowing at 17, gusting to 28. I did a loop drive to take pictures of the “mountains” for a future blog. Buffy and I ended up at Ingram Hill to do our usual loop walk around the cemetery.
A male eastern bluebird perched on the wire, a mockingbird perched on a tombstone, and an eastern kingbird on a shepard’s hook. Eastern kingbirds are in a family of birds known as flycatchers. Flycatchers perch on bare branches and fly out to catch flying insects.
We have 9 species of flycatchers here in southern Illinois; 5 of them stay here during the summer and the other 4 that migrate through during spring and fall. The kingbirds began returning in mid April and will migrate south the latter part of September.
I mostly see kingbirds perched on fence posts along country roadsides. To me they look like they’re wearing a tuxedo with their dark wings, back and tail. They have a white belly and white band across the end of their tail. They are 8″ long from end of beak to tip of tail. The white band is usually quite distinctive, except the shadows hide it my picture.
Perterson Fieldguide to Eastern Birds lists their habitat as wood edges, river groves, farms, orchards, roadsides, fence rows and wires. Their breeding range covers roughly south central Canada to Gulf of Mexico and east to the coast. They winter from Peru to Bolivia.
It always amazes me how birds can migrate as far as they do — how an 8-inch bird can fly almost to the middle of South America! I wonder how long that takes?