Great Crested Flycatcher

Common Name: Great Crested Flycatcher

Class:  Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Tyrannidae

Genus: Myiarchus

Species: Myiarchus crinitus

photo M. Noonan

Taxonomy/Description

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. 

Habitat/Diet

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 small woodlot. 

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

Behavior/Reproduction

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.

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