Thursday, June 6, 2013

Eastern Kingbird




An Eastern Kingbird waits at the water’s edge for something delicious to fly by.  He’s not being lazy.  Why not let your meals come to you?

He’s hungry for insects at this time of the year.  He’s been living on fruits and berries over the winter.  The insect hatch is fresh and tasty and his migration is lengthy.  After wintering in South America, he could be passing through on the way to Canada now. A stop at the millpond is refreshing and may be necessary, too.

The Mt. Morris Mill Coffee Shop is an old water-driven mill which now sells 'Dam Good Coffee.' It's closed on Tuesdays, but we had permission to be at the millpond in back.  

I was with my nephew, Brian Block, and we were looking for places to ‘bird.’  Near water is always a good choice.  

Sadly, a pair of Eastern Kingbirds were all we found. That surprised us.  We thought we would find lots of birds along the millrace.   

We dismissed all the ducks, geese, sparrows, swallows and starlings flying around as not interesting enough.

Eastern Kingbirds aren't rare, but these were special for us today. Perched on the edge of the millpond and dressed-to-kill, this pair was looking very smart.  The bird literature playfully describes the Eastern Kingbird as ‘wearing a business suit’ and it doesn’t take much imagination to see the description fits.  Only the penguin seems more formally attired.

Patiently waiting, but missing nothing, he disappeared PDQ when a meal flew by.  The smaller insects he’ll eat in the air. If it’s a large grasshopper or dragonfly, he’ll take it to a tree to bash it around a bit more before swallowing it whole.  I rarely get to see what birds catch due to the distance…tiny creatures for sure.  I can only imagine it takes quite a few flights to fill up an Eastern Kingbird.  On the other hand, a couple of grasshoppers could fill up this medium-sized bird rather quickly.
Black and white and bold is not really the norm for flycatchers/songbirds. The Eastern Kingbird is unusual in this way. Reds and yellows are more common.  But for what he lacks in color and song, he compensates for nicely in presentation and style.  This pair entertained us for a half an hour.  We weren’t bored when we decided to leave…we just had other birds to discover.
Allan