Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Couch's Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii)
Couch's Kingbird

Couch's Kingbird

Tyrannus couchii

The Couch's kingbird, a member of the tyrant flycatcher family, is a passerine bird with a robust physique, measuring approximately 7 inches in length. It boasts a large head and bill, and a distinctive dark, forked tail. The plumage is a study in contrasts: a pale gray head with darker cheeks, grayish-olive upperparts, and a bright yellow lower breast. The throat is pale, transitioning to a darker breast. Juvenile Couch's kingbirds present with browner underparts and pale-edged wings compared to their adult counterparts.

Identification Tips

To identify the Couch's kingbird, look for its large head and bill, dark forked tail, and the striking coloration of pale gray and yellow. The cheeks are a darker shade, providing a contrast to the pale gray head. The upperparts are grayish-olive, while the lower breast is vividly yellow. Juveniles can be distinguished by their browner underparts and the pale edges on their wings.


Couch's kingbird favors lightly wooded areas, including sparse forests, suburban regions, thorn forests, and the peripheries of wooded streams. It has a particular affinity for water, especially rivers, and is often observed near roadsides and forest edges.


This species is indigenous to southern Texas, the Gulf Coast to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico, Belize, and northern Guatemala. It can also be found in the lower stretches of the Rio Grande Valley. Notably, a vagrant individual was sighted in New York City in December 2014, captivating many birdwatchers.


Couch's kingbird typically exhibits a perching behavior, vigilantly scanning its surroundings for insect movement. It adeptly captures prey mid-flight, hovers above, or executes swift swoops to seize its meal. After the hunt, it returns to its perch to consume the insects.

Song & calls

The call of the Couch's kingbird is distinctively raspier and more complex than its relatives, with a varied pitch that serves as a reliable identifier.


While specific nesting behaviors are not well-documented, it is surmised that Couch's kingbird shares similarities with the tropical kingbird in its reproductive habits. Nesting occurs in lightly wooded areas, with a preference for sugar hackberry, cedar elm, Texas ebony, and Mexican ash trees. The nest, likely constructed by the female, is a flat, cup-like structure composed of twigs, leaves, weeds, moss, and bark, and lined with softer materials like rootlets, plant down, and Spanish moss. Positioned on higher branches, the nest is zealously defended by the adults. The incubation period and parental roles in feeding the young are not thoroughly understood, but it is believed that both parents participate in caring for the offspring.

Similar Species

Couch's kingbird can be easily mistaken for the tropical kingbird due to their close resemblance. However, the tropical kingbird prefers more open environments, while Couch's kingbird resides in more wooded settings. Cassin's kingbird and the western kingbird are also similar in appearance but can be differentiated by their darker head color, white-tipped outer tail feathers, and chest coloration.

Diet and Feeding

Primarily insectivorous, the Couch's kingbird also partakes in frugivory, consuming small berries and seeds. Its diet includes larger insects such as beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, and large flies. However, the full extent of its diet remains somewhat enigmatic due to limited observations.

Conservation status

The Couch's kingbird is classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, with a population that appears to be on the rise. In Texas, the population is stable, but in Mexico, it experiences fluctuations due to urbanization and deforestation.

Couch's Kingbird Sounds

Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Couch's Kingbirds on Birda


More Tyrant Flycatchers, Calyptura

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Such a great app!
I didn’t think I could enjoy birding more but this app makes it so much better. Some great features and a really great way to share your sightings with your friends or fellow birders nearby or around the world! ❤️
Alex J
Friendly and helps to identify birds
Great birding app, good for logging your sightings, also has nice species guide. I'm enjoying the social aspect more than I expected, everyone seems friendly and helps to identify unknown birds. Good mix of newbies and experienced users.
Hip An
Really enjoying Birda where I live i have a lot of Red kites really hard to photograph but I can video are you planning some place on the app where us Birda can post vids🦉🦅
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
Safira V
Birding and wellbeing app
Birda is an excellent platform to share your love of Birding and is a great tool of encouragement for a Birding Beginner like me. Birda has a very kind and supportive community of Birding enthusiasts. For me BIRDA is not only a BIRDING but also a WELLBEING App.
Very Wholesome App
Joined this app with a new interest in watching birds to help me find out what I was spotting. The community is very active in helping identify birds which is great and everyone is very kind so it’s just a nice wholesome community. I would definitely recommend this for any bird spotter 😄
Makes you want to spot birds more
I think this app is fun. It makes you want to spot birds more so I guess in a way it encourages you to get out and about instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Talli A
My favourite app
As a young birdwatcher who was always keen to be apart of a community but never seemed to find one, my problem was solved downloading this!!! Everyone is so friendly and just as excited to see birds as me 😁
Patricia L
Very encouraging birding app
Easy to use, fun to see progress and encouraging to receive feedback from other users.
As featured in
Birda Logo
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.