- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Tyrannidae
The Brown-crested Flycatcher’s quick, trilled song, whit-will-do, and its sharp calls are often the first indications of this unobtrusive bird’s presence. These large flycatchers wear shades of brown, olive, gray, lemon yellow, and rufous—the classic look of the genus Myiarchus. They range from the southwestern U.S. to Argentina and breed in habitats ranging from stream corridors to giant cactus, thorn forests, and middle-elevation woodlands. Old woodpecker holes are critical for nesting habitat. They feed mainly on insects that they catch in flight.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look, and especially listen, for Brown-crested Flycatchers in tree canopies in woodlands along streams. They can be easy to hear but are often tricky to see well in dense foliage. In the U.S., look in woodlands and saguaro stands of southeast Arizona or in South Texas during summer. In these hot environments, they are most active in the early morning.
- Copetón Tiranillo (Spanish)
- Tyran de Wied (French)
Yards with plenty of large trees, close to a river or stream, can attract nesting Brown-crested Flycatchers, especially if you provide nest boxes. Our NestWatch site provides plans for building a nest box of the right size, and All About Birdhouses has tips on providing safe, successful nest boxes.
- Cool Facts
- Brown-crested Flycatchers are so reliant on woodpecker holes for nesting that their range coincides largely with the ranges of woodpecker species. For example, in the U.S., the flycatchers occur alongside larger species like Gilded Flicker, Gila Woodpecker, and Golden-fronted Woodpecker, but not with smaller species such as Ladder-backed, whose holes are too small for the flycatcher.
- A single giant cactus such as a saguaro or organ pipe often holds a half-dozen or more cavities that have been constructed by woodpeckers. These cavities provide homes for many bird species, and it is not uncommon for a single cactus to have several different nesting occupants at the same time, including Brown-crested Flycatcher, Gilded Flicker, Gila Woodpecker, Elf Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and others.
- When nest building, Brown-crested Flycatchers assemble a virtual who’s-who of animal material from the surrounding area. Nests can contain fur of rabbits, woodrats, opossums, badgers, horses, and cattle, as well as feathers from Chihuahuan Ravens, Lesser Nighthawks, White-winged Doves, American Coot, and chickens. They also often use snake and lizard skins.
- The oldest Brown-crested Flycatcher was at least 11 years old when he was recaptured and released during a banding operation in Arizona.