Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 201

Common name:

Tropical Kingbird

Scientific name: Tyrannus melancholicus
Date: 11 September 2012
Time: 2:30 pm
Length of time observed: about 1 hour 30 minutes
Number: 1
Location: Provo Airport Dike (South Extension).
County: Utah
Elevation: 4500 feet
Distance to bird: as close as 25 feet at times
Optical equipment: 8x42 Binoculars and Kowa 20-60 zoom spotting scope
Weather: Calm, partly cloudy
Light Conditions: Good.
Description:        Size of bird: Western Kingbird sized
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Kingbird shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Gray head, white throat, greenish back, yellow chest and belly, brown wings and tail.
(Description:)            Bill Type: Large flycatcher bill.
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Very large bill. Yellow chest and brighter yellow belly. Gray head, darker gray in front of and behind the eye. White throat. Olive green back. Dull brown wings and tail. No bright contrasting white outer edge on outer tail feathers. Wing feathers had contrasting pale edges.
(Photos and Video 1 Video 2)
Song or call & method of delivery: None.. Dang It! If only.
Behavior: Perched on a fence intently watching the larger insects flying by. When it spotted one it liked it would fly out and grab it. I saw it eat several large dragonflies. It coughed up a couple of pellets while I was watching it. It eventually moved up to the top of some tall cottonwoods and was flycatching from there.
Habitat: On a fence between a dirt road and a small canal with marsh vegetation growing in it. Open fields and Airport Runway to the north, Open Utah Lake marshes on the south. It spent most of the time on the fence in the wide open with no high vegetation around. Just before other birders started to show up it moved up into some cottonwood trees down at the southwest corner of the south extension. While in the cottonwoods it perched near the tops of the trees on the more sparsely leaved branches.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Western Kingbird - This bird's bill was much larger than a Western. The chest was yellow and the belly was brighter yellow. The tail was brown, not black, and didn't have white outer web of outer tail feathers. Wing feathers had pale edging.

Couch's Kingbird - Having little experience with Tropical and Couch's Kingbirds I am hoping someone with more experience will take a look at the photos and help me out. My reasons for leaning towards Tropical is what looks to me to be a very long bill. Whenever I got a straight profile view the bill looked very long. I know bill size on these two species can overlap but based on the photos and field guides I've looked at this bill seems on the long side for Tropical and maybe out of the range of Couch's. The green back looks duller than many of the photos I've seen of Couch's Kingbirds.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
I have never seen a Tropical Kingbird before. I have seen a few Couch's Kingbirds in Texas but that was 12 years ago and I identified them by voice.
References consulted: The Sibley Guide to Birds App in field. Photos on the internet and other field guides when I got home.
Description from: Notes made later
Observer: Eric Huish
Observer's address: 850 E 100 N Pleasant Grove, UT
Observer's e-mail address: **
  Several people came and saw it later that same day. I think most believe it to be a Tropical Kingbird but I can't speak for them. Other observers include but are not limited to - KC Child's, Tim Avery, David Wheeler, Lorene Wyss, Ned Bixler, Jeff Cooper, Steve Carr, Steve and Cindy Sommerfeld, Norm Jenson, Shyloh Robinson, Alton Thygerson, Douglas Mead, Pat Jividen, Joel and Kathy Beyer, Dennis and Bryan Shirley, Milt Moody, Tuula Rose.
Date prepared: 12 September 2012
Additional material: Photos and Video1  Video 2) (Including Photos by Jeff Cooper)
Additional_Comments: These photos are stills taken from several short videos. If there is some angle not in the photos that you feel may be helpful I may be able find it somewhere in the videos. I shot videos hoping that if the bird vocalized I would catch it on the recording but it never made a sound. I wish now I would have played some calls to try to get it to respond.