First Record of Tropical Kingbirds Nesting in Mesquite in Arizona

Notes | By Doug Jenness | Accepted May 31, 2016

The Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), a widely distributed tyrant flycatcher in the Americas, breeds in the United States in southern Arizona and southern and western Texas (Stouffer and Chesser 1998, Brush 2005). Its breeding range in Arizona has been increasing over the past several decades (Corman 2005, Jenness 2015). The most favored breeding site for Tropical Kingbirds in Arizona is the tops of larger Fremont cottonwoods (Populus fremontii), often near bodies of water (Phillips et al. 1964, Monson and Phillips 1981, Corman 2005). It also has been reported nesting in pecan trees (Carya illinoinensis), particularly rows of trees along roadsides in agricultural areas (Corman 2005, Jenness 2015), and at least once each in athel tamarisk (Tamarix aphylla) (Corman 2005) and Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia) in 2014 at Willcox (eBird 2012). Throughout its extensive range this species favors locations with open edges by ponds, rivers, fields, golf courses, etc. Within this context, it utilizes a wide range of nesting sites. In Texas, for example, in addition to cottonwood, Washingtonian palm (Washingtonia robusta), Texas ebony (Pithecellobium ebano), and other tall trees, it is known to construct its nest in artificial structures such as power poles, electric substations, and football stadiums (Stouffer and Chesser 1998, Brush 2005). In Sonora, the Mexican state south of Arizona, it frequently nests in mangroves (Rhizophora sp.) in coastal areas and in cottonwoods along riparian belts farther north (Russell and Monson 1998).