Living Bird Magazine
A large, assertive flycatcher with rich reddish-brown accents and a lemon-yellow belly, the Great Crested Flycatcher is a common bird of Eastern woodlands. Its habit of hunting high in the canopy means it’s not particularly conspicuous—until you learn its very distinctive call, an emphatic rising whistle. These flycatchers swoop after flying insects and may crash into foliage in pursuit of leaf-crawling prey. They are the only Eastern flycatchers that nest in cavities, and this means they sometimes make use of nest boxes.More ID Info
Great Crested Flycatcher are common, large, brightly colored flycatchers—but they spend much of their day very high in the leafy canopy of deciduous woods. If you live within their summer range, listen for this species’ loud, rising whistle before you try and track one down. Listen for them at forest edges as well as in city parks, golf courses, and tree-lined neighborhoods. Once you learn their distinctive call, you’ll gain an appreciation for how common and widespread they are and you can then start watching for the birds sitting on high, exposed perches or making fast flights after insect prey.
Like other birds that nest in cavities, Great Crested Flycatchers sometimes have trouble finding nest sites in places where tree holes are scarce. They quite readily take to nest boxes, so consider putting up a nest box to attract a breeding pair. Make sure you put it up well before breeding season. Attach a guard to keep predators from raiding eggs and young. For best results, mount a hanging or swinging nest box roughly 12 to 20 feet above the ground, in an open woodland with clear flight paths to the box opening. Find out more about nest boxes on our Attract Birds pages. You'll find plans for building a nest box of the appropriate size on our All About Birdhouses site.
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