Tropical Kingbird at Boundary Bay

Birding without owning a vehicle in Vancouver can be a bit challenging at times. I had been reading reports and enjoying some great photos of a Tropical Kingbird that had decided to stick around at a particular spot of Boundary Bay in Delta for about two weeks now. Quite possibly the same individual was first seen at nearby Blackie Spit, where it appeared to only reside for a day. Since then the bird had been reliably located at the south end of 104th street since it was first seen there, slowly driving me mad that an easy lifer was seemingly out of my reach. Thankfully though, the bird stayed put until I could finally secure a ride down to see it yesterday evening (10th November).

Arriving at 104th street around 1545 didn’t leave a whole lot of time before the light would be gone for the day. But it took about ten minutes of searching before I located the bird atop some power lines roughly fifty meters from the dyke. While I was setting up my digiscoping rig I lost track of the bird as some people walked their horses to one of the farm houses on the east side of the road. Luckily another birder relocated it in a tree just across the street from the power lines where it was originally perched as I walked down the street scanning for it!

The bird stayed put long enough for me to get a few record shots and some great views. After a few minutes things got even better when the Kingbird flew back to power lines about seven meters or so in front of my position! It sat eyeing me for a while and every time a car drove past it would perk up and nervously watch it pass. After ten or fifteen minutes the bird seemed to accept my presence and started hawking for insects near the airport buildings and occasionally right over my head!

In the United States Tropical Kingbird breed in southeast Arizona and the Rio Grande valley of Texas in addition to Mexico, parts of the Caribbean, and Central and South America (1). During the fall this species is known to disperse northwards along the Pacific coast in small numbers; ranging from California all the way up to southern B.C (1). eBird indicates the earliest records for the Vancouver area occurred in 2008. The species was seen again in 2010, a bird I dipped on in my two attempts to locate it, before the current individual showed up. Hopefully this little guy has enough food and is able to withstand the steadily dropping temperatures until it decides to depart.

I’m so glad this bird decided to stay put for so long until I could make the trip out to see it. And to get such fantastically close up views of a great bird, and a lifer, has to be among the most delicious icing on any birders cake.


  1. Stouffer, Philip C. and R. Terry Chesser. 1998. Tropical Kingbird (Tyrannus melancholicus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

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