Bird #346 — Western Kingbird

tyrannus (monarch, ruler) verticalis (the top of the head)

Tuesday, July 16, 1991 — 5:10 pm

Clay County, Minnesota — Felton Prairie — Route 34 near junction with Route 27

After spending the morning at Agassiz National Wildlife Refuge, I drove south to Felton Prairie, a large area of grassland that supposedly harbors Chestnut-sided Longspurs.  I visited a Nature Conservancy preserve and drove around the area, but didn’t see any longspurs.

I did see this kingbird, however.  It was perched on a roadside wire above a grassy field.  I passed it and pulled over for a better look.  I twisted around like a contortionist to get a glimpse through my binoculars and saw a bit of yellow belly.  I jumped out of the car just in time to see it flit out over the road and catch a large bug in its bill.  It landed briefly on the wire again then took off across the field to a grove of trees about 60 yards away.  As it disappeared high into the branches, I saw the white outer-edges on its black tail.  I didn’t follow because the trees were clustered around a house.

I kept looking around the area for another hour or so, but I didn’t see another one, or any other lifers either.  The four lifer sightings I had this day were all less than optimum.  I don’t think I had all four of them in my binoculars for an aggregate one minute.

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