Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Great Crested Flycatcher

The raucous calls of a pair of nesting Great Crested Flycatchers substitute as a very early alarm clock every morning. This bird belongs to the genus Myarchis, which is a large genus of flycatchers found from Canada through South America.  In Minnesota, the Great Crested is the only Myarchis flycatcher we encounter, which is perhaps fortunate, since identifying other species can be very difficult.  Our species is somewhat smaller than a robin and winters from southern Mexico to South America.

The Great Crested is the only eastern flycatcher that breeds in holes, even in man-made bird houses.  It often places snake skin at the cavity entrance.  Apparently the snake skin is for decoration rather than, as previously believed, scaring off predators.  These days cellophane or other shiny strips of trash are used in place of snake skins.

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