West LA College Tropical Kingbirds
- On Thursday I saw, for the first time, social interactions between
the two birds. They flew together, often calling, around parking
lot 8 between 8:30 and 9 AM. When perched near bird #2, bird #1
showed begging or potential mating behavior with flicking wings,
spread tail feathers, and loud chattering.
After this weekend I will not be able to monitor these birds until
April 20, so just in case they decide to leave the area before the
20th (previous wintering TRKI in So. CA typically left in late March
or early April), I would like to know the date(s) they were last
seen by anyone.
Bird #1 is most often seen on/near the large "backstop" cages or
fence in the Harold Connelly Throwing Center (dug-up field above
parking lot 8) or in lot 8. Bird #2 is the one that roams widely,
down to the baseball outfield fence, in parking lots 7 and 8 (and
the green field in between), and up to the fence above lot 8. Both
birds can "hide" for many minutes in eucalyptus when not foraging.
Physical differences: Bird #2 has a small, white patch on top of its
crown that shows when it tilts its head, and the tip of its upper
mandible has a small, sharp hook (as illustrated in the Nat'l Geog.
field guide). Bird #1 occasionally shows a tiny, pale orange spot
in its crown, and its upper mandible is blunt at the tip - no hook.
Map: http://library.wlac.edu/map/street1.htm (north is on the left,
east is up)
- I saw the birds around 9:30 to 10:00 today, after missing both of
them yesterday. Bird #2 (hooked beak; the white crown spot may have
grown out - or the bird is using some "comb-over" technique) was in
its favorite spot on short, steel posts between parking lots 7 and 8.
Bird #1 (blunt beak) was in a new location, barely off campus, on the
oil field fence near the intersection of Stocker St. and Sophomore
Dr., not far from its traditional foraging area at the dug-up field
above parking lot 8.
Thank you Dick Barth, Walter Lamb, and Michael Zarky for helping me
monitor these birds.
- For the past three mornings (May 3-5) I've seen both birds foraging
and interacting together in the vacant lot between parking lots 7 and
8. I've seen them most often (1) on the short, steel posts and trees
along the lot's western edge and (2) in the euc's along the lot's
northern edge. I have not seen either bird at the baseball field or the
dug-up Throwing Center for several days, but they could still visit
The birds have become somewhat territorial, chasing away intruding
crows and other kingbirds, but I've seen no recent courtship behavior.
One bird will occasionally "buzz" the other, invoking loud twittering
calls, and they sometimes disappear into dense foliage where I lose
track of them.
- I saw both birds this morning, barely off campus in the restricted
access oil field near the intersection of Stocker St. and Sophomore
Dr. During the past week they have ranged from the oil field down to
the short, steel posts along the western side of the vacant lot just
above parking lot 7.
The latest spring date I know of for TRKI along coastal CA is May 15
(Kimball & Jon's 1981 book). Does anyone know of a later date?
Bird #1 now has medium brown primary tips (contrasting with dark brown
tertials) and a blunt beak, while bird #2 has dark brown primary tips
and a hooked beak. The beak detail is difficult to see without a scope.
Map (north is on the left, east is up):
- Hi Don,
This is an exciting record. Great work in keeping track of this!
A quick search of some status books I have revealed one record of a
wintering Tropical Kingbird that remained later in two consecutive
years. In his book "The Birds of Santa Barbara County, California,"
Paul E. Lehman cites: "One near Devereux Slough, Goleta, 30 November
1980 - 23 May 1981 (ph. SBMNH) and again 24 November 1982 - 8 June 1983
remained exceptionally late."
> The latest spring date I know of for TRKI along coastal CA is May 15
> (Kimball & Jon's 1981 book). Does anyone know of a later date?
> Don Sterba
> Culver City
- As of 11:30 am, Friday, May 13, one of the Tropical Kingbirds was
still present at WLAC. He was flycatching from the metal fence posts
that line the open field between parking lot 7 and the vacant lot
above it. We were able to get very good views from the street that
runs between the two lots.
Thanks Don for the very accurate and detailed directions.
John Garrett (and dad)
- This is my last update on these birds; they now are difficult to find
or may be gone from the area. I last saw bird #1 on Thursday and bird
#2 on Monday - both in the off-limits oil field near the intersection
of Stocker St and Sophomore Dr. I have not seen either bird on campus
for several days.