Great Crested Flycatcher
Common Name: Great Crested Flycatcher
photo M. Noonan
Great Crested Flycatchers are secretive birds often given away by their loud
call. They are easily distinguished by their grey chest and yellow belly.
They have show an olive colored back and head, and can often be seen
displaying an olive colored crest. They also have cinnamon toned tails and
wings. The Great Crested flycatchers are sexually monomorphic in
coloration, which means the males and females look quite similar. However,
in this case, the female is slightly smaller.
Great Crested Flycatchers make the eastern half of the United States, as
well as the southernmost part of eastern Canada, their breeding grounds.
They can be found at the southern tip of Florida as year round residents.
Within this range, they prefer deciduous woodlands over coniferous. They
are seldom found in the deep woodlands, but rather at edges or within a
The diet of Great Crested Flycatcher consists of mostly insects and other
invertebrates, but berries and other small fruits are also consumed. Before
trees regain their foliage, Great Crested Flycatchers will eat bugs from in
and around the bark of trees. Mostly, their diet is composed of butterflies
and moths caught at wing.
photo M. Noonan
Great Crested Flycatchers are not flocking birds. They are most often alone
or in a pair with its mate. These very territorial birds ignore no bird, of
the same or different species, when it comes within their territory. When
excited, they raise their crests, chase other birds quickly away and snap
their bill. Male and Females will form pair bonds, and these bonds may
re-form year after year if both return to the same area. Both sexes find a
suitable nesting site. The female does the majority of the nest building
and the male guards closely during the production of the nest and during egg
laying. In any one particular nest, eggs usually hatch within two days of
one another and within 15 days, nestlings are ready to leave. At this
stage, as Great Crested Flycatchers spend little time on the ground,
fledglings are able to fly for prolonged periods of time.
Where to see them in WNY
Great Crested Flycatchers can mostly be found at forest openings and
clearings near water. When they nest, they usually use deep cavities,
preferring dead trees rather than live, and on average their nesting spots
are about 15-20 feet from the ground. Also, look to outer branches of
trees, and also branches of dead trees for Great Crested Flycatchers because
these are the places they are most commonly found perching and waiting to
dive for food.