Wednesday, June 6, 2012

King of the East

In the western half of the United States we are blessed with many different avian monarchs. In Texas, for example, an enterprising birder can hope to see Cassin's, Western, Tropical, and even Couch's Kingbirds all within the same month, even at the same location.

In the eastern United States, there is only one king. He is mean, but he is stylish. He looks after his dominion with tender care, but he is merciless in the enforcement of his laws and the protections of his territory. The Eastern Kingbird rules with an iron fist (wing?). Although the bird itself can be found all the way over in the Pacific Northwest, it does not tolerate the incursion of any other Kingbirds east of the Mississippi.

The Eastern Kingbird is a bird of the people. Despite its regal posture and attitude, it does not perch on gaudy golden thrones or ornate ostentatious palanquins. It knows it is conspicuous enough perched atop nest boxes and fences posts, on utility wires and sturdy stalks of grass.

In flight, The Eastern Kingbird likes to hover and harry its prey, displaying the stability and agility of the world's finest helicopters. Many is the unfortunate insect whose dying thought has been, "What a lovely white tail band!"

Even though the Eastern Kingbird lack some of the color of its western kingly cousins, it's plumage is unique, and quite different from the western royalty. It's hard to pick a favorite between the similar Kingbirds of the west. For now, I'll choose the Eastern.