Giant Kingbird (Tyrannus cubensis)
Giant Kingbird, Najasa, Cuba, February 2005 - click on image for a larger view Najasa, Cuba
February 2005

The Giant Kingbird is now endemic to Cuba having disappeared from the Bahamas and Caicos islands. It is classified as Endangered by Birdlife International and there are less than 1,000 individuals left.

Giant Kingbird looking at a meal, Najasa, Cuba, February 2005 - click on image for a larger view I was fortunate to meet Pedro Regalado at Najasa and he showed me this bird. Pedro is probably the expert on this species and has published articles in World Birdwatch, Vol. 24 Number 4, December 2002, Page 14 entitled "Cuba's Giant Kingbird" and in Cotinga 22 (2004): 66-72 entitled "Aspectos de la biología del Pitirre Real Tyrannus cubensis, en Najasa, Camagüey, Cuba."

It is similar to Loggerhead Kingbird T. caudifasciatus but is larger with an even more massive bill and a rounder head. The tail does not have such a large pale tip.

It has a very large territory averaging about 27 hectares and nests exclusively in Ceiba (Kapok) trees. It feeds mainly on flying insects of the Hymenoptera (wasp) group (it is sizing one up in the second photo) but also eats fruit and lizards.

Apart from the 2 articles cited there is an excellent page by Birdlife International here.

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