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They are beautiful birds.  As I grew up in Great Bend Ks - I used to partially tame them.  I'd throw crickets out on the road and they would fly down to get them - then I started whistling in a high pitch each time I would be doing that and they associated the whistle with food.  Then I started tossing the crickets in the air and they would fly out and catch them.  As time went on they got tamer and tamer and would let me reach within 2 or 3 inches of them with a cricket in my hand.  When they got the babies out of the nest - the family came over and the babies sat on the lines and the parents caught my crickets and fed them.

Then they were gone and the next spring - I was sitting on the porch and not thinking about them at all and I heard some noise and looked up to see two fluttering over my head about 4 feet up.

I quickly ran and got some bugs and tossed them and it was the same kingbirds and they had remembered.

Unfortunately they nested 1.5 blocks away this time but they still often responded to my whistle.

That year was alot easier on our purple martins though because the kingbirds would pounce on them everytime they came to the Martin house.   It seemed to be a game with the kingbirds because the Martins are no threat but I'm sure the Martins were happy to be left alone.

I don't know if we could call it intelligence but birds can learn alot - In El Cajon CA - I had a robin that would come for worms and other bugs and a Mockingbird that approached me anytiime I was outside and I just talked to it.  It did not seem interested in bugs.

They are fascinating - I just wish I had time to do something like that today.

We have a pretty good population of Western Kingbirds in St. Joseph - they are in most usual places - about 13 pairs, most with nesting almost finished - at which time they leave quickly, and I just found two more within 4 blocks of the Belt Highway and A Street - so have to get back there and verify nesting.

John Hansen  [log in to unmask]   St. Joseph, MO

            ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Jean Blackwood 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Friday, June 27, 2008 12:27 PM
  Subject: western kingbirds


  I was sitting in the MCDonald's at Smiley Lane and Rangeline in north Columbia this morning when I spotted a western kingbird outside near the parking lot.  As I watched I realized there were at least two of them out there, along with many barn swallows and an eastern kingbird, I presume because some especially tasty bugs were swarming near the Break Time.  At one point a western and eastern kingbird got into a fight over a particular branch they both wanted to rest on.  

  It'll be great to see western kingbirds regularly if they are indeed settling in here as I think they are such  beautiful birds.  But I do wonder about their competition with the eastern kingbirds - and the scissor-tailed flycatchers..

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The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
ASM Fall Meeting: Sept. 26-28, 2008 at Osage Beach, MO
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