The Great crested flycatcher, belonging to genus Myiarchus, is an insect-eating bird. It is also the most widely found species of this genus. They are mostly seen in treetops, rather than on the ground.
Species: M. crinitus
The scientific name for Great crested flycatcher is Myiarchus crinitus.
Adult specimens measure approximately 17 to 21 cm in length. Their weight tends to be around 28 to 40 grams, while their wingspan is around 34 centimetres.
These species show no sexual dimorphism. Both male and female have brown upperpart with They long brownish tail. Their underparts are yellow; along with grey throat and breast. They also possess a bushy crest. They have small, shiny, black eyes.
Their habitat selection around from population to population. They prefer to breed in mixed woodlands, at the edges of tree clearings, or in deciduous forests. Some population prefer to dwell in open woodland areas, abandoned orchards, or woodlands with selective cutting.
They have a tendency to avoid habitats that are dominated by coniferous trees.
During the summer breeding time, they can be found all across mid-eastern, and eastern parts of the United States. The scattered population are also found in parts of central US, including North and South Florida, central and eastern parts of North Dakota, central Oklahoma, and in some parts of Texas.
In Canada, they are seen in southern Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, parts of Prince Edward Island, and in northeast Nova Scotia. Winter migration takes them to southern Mexico, Yucatán Peninsula, extending to parts of Central America. They can be found all around the year in southern Florida.
These species locate their prey from tree perches, looking at all directions with a quick, continuous head movement. They are very agile and swift fliers. They are quite persistent in going after their prey even if they miss it in the first shot. At times, they hover over their prey and snap it up before going along their flight path. Their pointed beak helps them in catching their prey while in flight. Males often go near females in order to impetrate mating. If the female goes back her cavity, the male hovers for some time before going back to a perch. Males guard their mates during the mating season. Intruders are first warned with a distinct call, followed by a nodding head with forward-leaning posture.
This flycatcher species are monogamous. If both male and female survive the winter, they mostly reform the pair in the following years. Breeding takes place from mid-April to late June. Researchers have observed that males try to mate starting from the nest building process to even during hatching.
They prefer large cavities (whether made by other birds or occurring naturally) with a huge opening as their nesting site. Both sexes choose the nesting site, but nest building is mostly done by the female. The nest is primarily comprised of plant fibres, like grass, leaves, or soft vegetation; and it is done within 4 days. Females lay 4 to 8 eggs in a single clutch. Eggs are pale buff to creamy white in colour. The female incubates the eggs for approximately two weeks. After hatching the juveniles take two or three more weeks before they take their first flight. During this time, the nestlings are fed by their parents.
This bird species is an insectivore. They generally feed on moths, butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, katydids, grasshoppers, bees, wasps, true bugs and tree crickets among others. They also feed on spiders and small lizards. Berries and fruits tend to be a major part of their diet during winter months.
The lifespan of the Great crested flycatcher is somewhere between 2 to 10 years. Researchers have not been able to find out its exact lifespan as only a handful of individuals go back to its birthplace.
Males’ call is generally two short whistles – a ‘whee-eeps’ note, followed by a high pitched ‘whee’; and often a soft ‘chuurr.’ These calls are indicated at another specimen of its species. These notes are called ‘Dawn song.’ However, their most prominent vocalization is a loud, single ‘whee-eep’. A fast repetition of this sound is a warning of a predator nearby.
Eggs, as well as incubating females, are vulnerable to snakes (such as yellow rat snakes, corn snakes and indigo snakes) and squirrels.
As per the North American Breeding Bird Survey, the population of the Great Crested Flycatcher have stayed steady throughout their breeding location from the year 1966 till 2014. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has kept this species in the ‘Least Concern’ category.
They are known to put up with human presence quite easily. In fact, they readily accept foods from hanging nesting boxes placed by bird enthusiasts at their gardens.
During migration, they do not travel in a large flock like a lot of other migratory bird species. They either travel in pairs or alone.
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