The sea grape trees we can see so well from our veranda always seem to be a magnet for bird activity and this past October was no exception. This time of year, however, the birds are attracted to the insects that in turn are attracted to the sea grape flowers. The acrobatics of the Eastern Kingbirds were a joy to watch as they hawked insects in the sea grapes trees. The views were often obscured by the large leaves, but I did get a few shots of the activity. Below is a series showing some of the moves. Keep an eye on the bird in the background, too. Kingbirds aren’t flashy, colorful birds; they are essentially monochromatic with white below, dark grey to black above. White wing bars and a white terminal tail band are about as fancy as they get. Though they aren’t colorful, they are handsome birds.
They reportedly do have smallish crests that show a little red or orange, especially the males, but none of them displayed crests during the hours of time we spent watching them. That may be because they are just passing through on their way from their breeding grounds in North America to their long winter vacation in South America. Their scientific name (Tyrannus tyrannus) denotes their fierce, aggressive behavior that is conspicuous during breeding and rearing. They tend to be isolated as mating pairs; and some pairs are lucky enough to have a helper. Other than that, they don’t tolerate others of the same species or even other species.
When they are migrating they don’t have to attract mates or defend territory and once they arrive in South America they tend to travel and forage in flocks. Another difference in their holiday behavior is that their diet switches from primarily insects to fruit. Just like people, they seem to have a more relaxed, gregarious take on life when on holiday and go for the sweets instead of the protein. :-)