English and Scientific names:

Couch's Kingbird (Tyrannus couchii)

Number of individuals: 

1 adult, presumed male in undetermined plumage

Locality: LOUISIANA: 


Specific Locality:

Judice Park, Judice

Date(s) when observed:

31 December 2009

Time(s) of day when observed:  

ca. 4:00 p.m. - 4:45 p.m.

Reporting observer and address:

James W. Beck
Broussard, LA

Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Ellen Beck

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

Kevin Leigh, Mike Musumeche, Paul Conover, Devin & Justin Bosler

Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Sun had just come out from a mostly overcast sky, and was in the process of setting. The bird was actively working a tree line north-south, thus the lighting varied from being a back-lit subject to the sun shining directly on the bird.

Optical equipment: 

Swarovski 10x42 EL binoculars

Distance to bird(s): 

varying from ca. 10 meters to 25 meters

Duration of observation:

ca. 45 minutes


suburban recreational park with a coulee running north-south with a treeline consisting predominately of Live Oak, Chinese Tallow & Sugarberry. Most trees were mostly live in vigor, with a significant amount of snags in partially live trees & some mostly dead or dying trees. The bird seemed to prefer a couple of dead tallow snags with lichen.

Behavior of bird: 

Bird originally was spotted perched atop of a dead tallow snag, periodically sallying out to capture avian arthropod prey items. A vocal recording was used 4-5 times to entice the bird one way or another to react. The bird immediately responded with a series of single calls, followed with several full song productions.


Medium-sized tyrant flycatcher with ashy gray head, lighter chin & dark eye/auricular patch. Bill black and fairly thick and ca. 1/2 length of head. Upper chest down to lower belly bright lemon-yellow. Back greenish with dark wings & tail. Tail significantly notched, with outer three retrices being light underneath while spread, central retrices dark underneath. Undertail coverts yellow.


A clear whistled "chew-it, chew-it, chewee-chew"

Similar species:

Other yellow-bellied flycatchers were eliminated definitively by voice. Western Kingbird also eliminated by bill size/thickness as well as lack of white outer retrices. Cassin's eliminated by bill size/shape and voice. Tropical eliminated by voice.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?

Bird was photographed with Kodak EasyShare Z1015 IS digital camera, video-recorded (with audio) with same camera & video-taped (with audio) with Sony digital HandyCam.

Previous experience with this species: 

I have seen this species on trips to the Lower Rio Grande Valley in south Texas in 1997, 1999 & 2000.

Identification aids:

No guides used identification; identification was made based on memory & confirmation of voice.

This description is written from: 


Are you positive of your identification? If not, explain: 



Date and time: 

4 January 2010, 8:38 a.m.