Bird Info

Tropical Kingbird /tirano tropical (Tyrannus melancholicus)

Voice: In a nutshell, the vocalizations of Tropical Kingbirds have a more monotone, metallic quality, while Couch’s Kingbird are more varied and “breezy.” The calls of Tropical Kingbirds are a series of sharp, staccato “pip-pip-pip-pip” notes that accelerate toward the end. The vocalizations of Couch’s Kingbird often include sharp introductory “kip” notes, followed by “breeeer” notes. The dawn song of Couch’s often begins with a series of “breer” notes followed by “s’wee s’wee s’wee s’wee s’wee-i-chu.”

Tropical Kingbird
Status: Locally uncommon to common resident in urban areas from Port Isabel to Mission.

The status of this species has changed in recent years. Before 1991, there was just one record documented by specimen from Brownsville in 1909. In the summer of 1991, a pair of Tropical Kingbirds nested in Brownsville and the species hasn’t looked back since. Today, the Tropical Kingbird population has virtually exploded in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Although the heart of their “urban” range runs from Brownsville to Mission, birds can also be found along the coast in Port Isabel to the western edge of Hidalgo County at La Joya.

Habitat: Open areas, especially fond of golf courses.

Best Spots: Saint Joseph Academy (Brownsville) football stadium, Harlingen’s City Lake, and golf courses from Brownsville to Mission.

Similar Species: Because Tropical and Couch’s Kingbirds are virtually identical in appearance (although the bill of Tropical Kingbird averages longer and less tapered), voice becomes essential in distinguishing the two species.

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All Bird call recordings © John C. Arvin.
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Welcome to a birder’s eye view of the seasons in the Lower Rio Grande Valley. Enjoy our annual cycle! The resulting avifauna in deep South Texas is the most diverse north of the Mexican border. The four county area that makes up the lower Rio Grande Valley has recorded over 500 species of birds. This is more species of birds than have been recorded in all but two or three entire states. Small wonder that birders from across the continent make pilgrimages to the region. Happy Birding!

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