Monday, May 24, 2010

May 24: Great-crested Flycatcher

As the cardinal has quieted down in my neighborhood, his repetitive whistles have been replaced by the brash calls of another avian big mouth: the great-crested flycatcher. I heard his "breep, breep" this morning when I first awoke. All day long I could hear his urgent, sputtering calls outside my office window. And I hear him now as I type on my back porch, the sound carrying over the racket of several cawing crows. "Breep, breep..." Like someone whistling for a dog, only buzzier.

He's so insistent and just plain loud that I'm surprised no one else ever really notices him. Several times during the day I heard that noise from my desk and had to laugh, he sounded so demanding, perhaps a little desperate. That's what hormones will do to a guy.

This striking bird is deserving of some attention. He's not a lipstick red cardinal, of course. But he's no skulking sparrow, being noticeably bigger than his fly-catching cousin, the phoebe, and sporting a lemon yellow breast, a regal crest, and rusty red on his wing feathers and tail. A bird worth looking for with the binoculars as he sings from a high perch, master of his domain. The great-crested flycatcher usually lives near water--better for flies there--so we're lucky to share his habitat here along the Megunticook River, even if he can be a bit raucous as a neighbor.

An interesting side note: the great-crested flycatcher has a habit of weaving snake skins into its nest. No one is really sure why it does that. I like to think that it's an aesthetic choice. A bird as vocal as this one just seems like the type who'd want to sport some snake skin.

Noisy flycatcher
announcing your place in things--
lord of the tree tops.

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