A swooping, darting and sometimes hovering flycatcher, the Western Kingbird is such fun to watch. When they aren’t performing an aerial ballet to outmaneuver and catch a flying insect, you can find them on a favorite perch actively looking for their next meal to wing on by.
These lemon-breasted, robin-sized birds are easy to recognize. Just look up when you hear non-stop chittering and chatting and you’re likely to find a Western kingbird.
After a nice hike along one of Albuquerque’s Open Space Trails, I knew one of these gorgeous flycatchers was somewhere close by. There! Up high on a twisted powerline was a male kingbird actively hunting and having a lovely grooming session at the same time. He would drop from his perch to nab a bug, return to the exact same place and swallow his snack, then proceed to fluff and ruffle his feathers to pick out some lice-y freeloaders. Over and over he would repeat this dine and dance, never seeming to get full or clean enough!
About 10 minutes and 40+ photos later (thank goodness for digital) I thanked him for the entertainment and waved good-bye. Apparently unbothered by my presence (or absence), he gazed down at me and our eyes met. Cocking his head to one side he seemed to say, ”thanks for stopping by.”
And while walking away, I glanced back in time to watch this handsome Western Kingbird swoop and nab his next meal!