Featured Sanctuary Bird: Great Crested Flycatcher

The Great Crested Flycatcher is an affable bird found in tree tops across Wisconsin. Its distinctive wheeep call marks a mid-May morning in many a Wisconsin woodland.

Photography by Kelly Colgan Azar

Photography by Kelly Colgan Azar

Nesting in cavities allows the bird to avoid parasitism by the Brown-headed Cowbird. These flycatchers will also aggressively defend the nest when threatened, and thus their clutch size of 4 to 8 eggs succeeds more often. Tolerant of human disturbance, the Great Crested Flycatcher thrives in most woodland types, ranging from savannas and forest patches to woodlots, fencerows, and even solitary trees. The bird tends to be adaptable in its nesting preferences as well, ranging from natural cavities to nest boxes, buckets, or cans.

Photography by Andrea Westmoreland

Photography by Andrea Westmoreland

Thus, the Great Crested Flycatcher has maintained and even increased its status across its breeding range, a rarity among neotropical migrants. Nests with eggs can be found in a few days, continuing until mid-June. Incubation lasts about two weeks and its takes another 2-3 weeks for the chicks to fledge.

As its name suggests, the flycatcher captures insects in aerial maneuvers throughout the forest canopy. The bird's diet also is supplemented with fruits and berries. It's a difficult bird to spot, but you might find one at Faville Grove on a dead branch high in the canopy, searching for its next meal. You might even chance upon seeing the bird crash into branches in pursuit of its prey. At the very least, you'll hear its distinctive call throughout the wooded areas of the sanctuary.

Written by Drew Harry, Faville Grove Land Steward