English and Scientific names:

Great Kiskadee

Number of individuals: 


Locality: LOUISIANA: 

Vermilion Parish

Specific Locality:

White Lake Wetlands Conservation Area lodge, about 8 mils due S of Gueydan.

Date(s) when observed:


Time(s) of day when observed:  

About 10:00 AM for about 1 minute, and about 1:45 for about 5 minutes.

Reporting observer and address:

Paul Conover

Lafayette, LA

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

Many; Toddy Guidry organized a trip to WLWCA with many participants. All saw the bird. I believe that Roselie Overby was the first to obsrrve the bird.

Other observers who independently identified the bird(s)

One of the on-site personnel described the bird and its call and told us he had heard two birds calling, and then seen two kiskadees interacting earlier in the week.

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

Bright full sunlight.

Optical equipment: 

Zeiss 10s, Nikon d50 w/200mm lens.

Distance to bird(s): 

20-30 yards. 

Duration of observation:

A little over 5 minutes.


A canal-ringed compound of at least a few acres, raised above the elevation of the marsh (I believe with spoil atop an existing ridge, done in the 1930s or ‘40s). On this “island” in the marsh, a variety of trees were planted and are now quite large: live oaks, pecans, etc. On the levees of the canals surrounding the compound or leading to or away from it, are more live oaks, pines, and native trees such as hackberry, all large. Some of the adjacent land also has high ground/spoil areas with fairly substantial if young woods. The compound itself consists of a large house and a few smaller ones. The grounds are well manicured, basically a few acres of lawn with large trees and a few fruit trees mixed in. Surrounding this little patch of high ground in all directions are canals with wooded levees, a mile of marsh to the north, and marsh all the way to the gulf in the south (15 miles?). The marsh vegetation is typical of the area. At the marsh/spoil interface is a margin of roseau cane.

Behavior of bird: 

 When I first became aware of the bird, it was calling loudly and responded to a tape playback by flying into view, calling incessantly. It flew in a slow, braking flight over us, landed a few times in high treetops, then departed back to the west, across a canal into a dense area of pines and dense native trees. I took two pictures of the bird at this time; neither was useful.


A few hours later, Michael Seymour and I attempted to relocate the bird with recorded calls. It repeated the same procedure as before, but I was able to photograph it. Again, it called incessantly, even after retreating across the canal.


General: A roughly blue-jay sized bird with a black-mask, yellow-belly and reddish back, wings and tail that appeared more akin to kingfishers or jays than flycatchers.


Specific: Mantle reddish-brown (perhaps with olive wash), wings and tail with the reddish tone of the back absent the brown. Head capped white, with prominent black stripes. Black stripes the depth of the bill ran back from the bases of the bill through the eyes, continuing at roughly the same thickness behind the eye, then curved downward and merged with upper mantle. Broad white forehead continued as even-width supercilia which followed the contours of the black eyestripe onto the nape. Crown black (top never visible, no paler coronal patch seen), following the contours of the white supercilia along the nape/hindcrown. The head seen from the rear, then, showed a downward pointing V of white bordered above and below by black. The white of the chin and throat extended broadly laterally along the lower edge of the black eye-line to where the eye-line met the mantle. Remainder of body underparts lemon-yellow. Underwing linings lemon yellow. Flight feathers seen from below reddish, as above.


Black bill large, stout, somewhat jay-like.


Eyes dark. Legs dark.   



Extremely vocal before and after tape playbacks. It repeatedly gave the loud “Kiskadee” call. It also gave a shorter call in response to the tape, a sort of weeEEEEEp.

Similar species:

There are many species that bear a strong or superficial resemblance to Great Kiskadee; however, the physical characters of this individual were all consistent with Great Kiskadee, and the bird was vigorously giving a Great Kiskadee call.

Photographs or tape recordings obtained?


Previous experience with this species: 

Adequate. I’ve seen a few in Louisiana and many in Texas. I have no experience with Kiskadee look-alikes.  

Identification aids:


This description is written from: 

Memory, checked against photos.  

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




Paul Conover

Date and time: