One of my favorite birding spots is Kissena Corridor Park in Queens, New York. It is nearby, accessible, and loaded with birds. Not only that, but shortly after I moved to New York City in 2008 the Parks Department ripped out a whole bunch of invasive species, worked hard to prevent them from coming back, and planted a bunch of native species. As you can imagine, it has become a great place to see good birds, especially in fall migration when all of those native plants contribute seeds and berries for the birds to eat.

Eastern Kingbirds flycatching

Here an Eastern Kingbird takes off after a bug as another Eastern Kingbird watches for its own bug.

On my latest visit to Kissena Corridor Park on Friday evening after work it was neither seeds nor berries that captured the attention of hungry birds. Instead, it was some kind of insect hatch that brought out Least Flycatchers, Eastern Kingbirds, a Yellow Warbler, a Warbling Vireo, a host of Chimney Swifts, a Baltimore Oriole, some Cedar Waxwings, a Red-eyed Vireo, a bunch of Barn Swallows, and, entertainingly, some Northern Mockingbirds whose lack of flycatching finesse showed why they spend more time eating fruits and berries.

I spent most of time trying to get shots of Eastern Kingbirds in flight both because I really like kingbirds and because New York State’s ornithological journal is called The Kingbird and always has one on the cover. Who doesn’t like seeing one of their pictures on the cover of, well, anything? Not only that, but kingbirds are pretty photogenic, especially in flight.

Eastern Kingbird catching a bug

Eastern Kingbirds both above and below

Eastern Kingbird flycatching 2

Whereas the Eastern Kingbirds impressed me with their aerial acrobatics I remained entirely underwhelmed by the uninspired flycatching attempts of the Yellow Warbler. It basically flew on a straight line from tree to tree trying (and mostly failing) to grab bugs on its way. When it did try a course correction in flight it was very clumsy. This must be why Yellow Warblers don’t spend much time flycatching unless there is a smorgasbord of insects available.

Yellow Warbler flycatching

This is a Yellow Warbler doing the best it could at flycatching.

Baltimore Oriole flycatching

Baltimore Orioles are slightly better at flycatching than Yellow Warblers but still fall far short of the skills displayed by Eastern Kingbirds.

Eastern Kingbird with one new tail feather

Even while growing in a brand new tail feather this Eastern Kingbird had no problem catching bugs.

tattered Chimney Swift

This disgusting Chimney Swift put everything with wings to shame merely by still being able to fly. Was someone throwing ack-ack at this thing?

Eastern Kingbird flycatching

Aahhh. Much better. The Eastern Kingbird is truly the King of Kings!

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Written by Corey
Corey is a New Yorker who lived most of his life in upstate New York but has lived in Queens since 2008. He's only been birding since 2005 but has garnered a respectable life list by birding whenever he wasn't working as a union representative or spending time with his family. He lives in Forest Hills with Daisy, their son, Desmond Shearwater, and their indoor cat, B.B. His bird photographs have appeared on the Today Show, in Birding, Living Bird Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and many other fine publications. He is also the author of the American Birding Association Field Guide to the Birds of New York.