King Bird, an American flycatcher of the genus tyrannus (Cuv.), and species T. Caroli-nensis (Baird) or T. intrepidus (Vieill.); other names given to it are tyrant flycatcher and bee martin. This bird is 8 1/2 in. long, with an extent of wings of 14 1/2; the bill is stout, shorter than the head; the wings long and pointed, the outer primaries abruptly attenuated near the end; tail shorter than the wings, slightly rounded; on the crown a concealed patch of vermilion feathers edged with white and orange, capable of erection as a crest. The color above is dark bluish ash; below white, tinged with bluish ash on the sides of the throat and across the breast; the wings dark brown, the greater coverts and quills edged with white; tail broadly margined and tipped with white. It is found throughout eastern North America to the Rocky mountains, and in Washington territory. According to Audubon, the king bird arrives in Louisiana from the south about the middle of March; it proceeds gradually to the north, going back about the last of August. It prefers orchards, fields of clover, and the vicinity of houses, being seldom found in woods; the flight is rapid, performed by alternate flappings and sailings, much in the manner of our robin.
The intrepidity of the king bird is remarkable, as it does not hesitate to attack the crow, vultures, hawks, eagles, and even cats and other animals approaching the nest, plunging upon their backs and striking with the bill; it is the farmer's friend in protecting eggs from the crow and chickens from the hawk, and in devouring noxious insects; and yet on account of its eating a few bees, raspberries, and figs, it is very generally persecuted. The nest is made in trees, and the eggs, four to six, are reddish white with irregular spots of brown. The notes are tremulous and sharp, and uttered continuously during flight. Many are shot in the southern states, where their flesh is considered a delicacy.
King Bird (Tyrannus Carolincusis).