Saturday, July 2, 2022

The Magnificent Great Crested Fly Catchers (Myiarchus crinitus)

    The elusive fly catchers are feverishly feeding the chicks that reside in an older blue wooden bird house. The handmade structure is covered by a mature hydrangea and is tucked away in under a tall magnolia tree. Over the years there have been various residents who made this little wooden sanctuary their home, but this year, it has been a treat to see the flycatchers come and go, perch on the magnolia branches and bring back dragonflies, crickets and other insects for their clutch. The male and female work with incredible precision, elegance and have a remarkable cadence. I love their distinct calls and their chartreuse feathers. I also love that they can catch such large flying insects and bring them back to the nest in their beaks with such speed and accuracy. 

The female flies away just as the male arrives with the transparent wings peeking out of its beak. They also eat wasps, spiders, seeds and berries. The garden is filled with all of their delights.

    The colors of their feathers range from light and dark grey to subtle shades of dark and olive yellow. When they fly, they reveal a very beautiful belly that is round and fluffy. The colors of the feathers are almost tropical yet they camouflage so beautifully in this wooded environment. The first time that I saw one here, it was perched on the holly eating berries. I was curious as to its size and its song. It bounced up and down as it ate the berries and protectively gathered its bounty and flew away.

They are not typical back yard birds. They generally live near open fields and woodlands and migrate from the south, as far away as the Yucatan in Mexico. They are often found in nests off the ground, in forests and near water. They may also build a nest in a hollowed out or fallen tree near moist earth. 

The chicks must be ready to fledge very soon. I am imagining that they are well fed and just about ready to greet the garden and the deep shades of the nearby woods. 

They have been safely hidden for weeks now and as they enter the bigger world, they will blend beautifully with the safety and background of the yellow, green and brown tones of the oak forest.