About The Great Crested Flycatcher

The Great Crested Flycatcher is a forest bird often seen perched on a branch or utility post and flying forth to grab flying insects then returning to the same place to eat. It lives in northern South America and migrates to eastern North America to nest and raise its fledglings. It is a medium-sized (8-9 inches long) songbird with olive brown back, pale gray throat and yellow belly. Its wings and tail have a rusty tinge. Its bill is large and black. Males and females have similar plumage.

The Great Crested Flycatcher Nesting Preferences

The Great Crested Flycatcher nests in natural cavities high up in trees or abandoned woodpecker holes. It also nests in human-made structures like nest boxes, rain gutters, pipes and mail boxes. Both the male and the female build the nest; typically made of leaves, grasses, twigs, feathers, pine needles, shed snakeskin and cellophane. The female lays 3 to 6 creamy white eggs with brown blotches. The eggs are incubated for 13 to 15 days. Both sexes aggressively defend the nest from Starlings, woodpeckers and squirrels. They care for their young until the nestlings leave the nest in about 2 weeks. After leaving the nest, the young and adults remain as a family group staying in the nesting area for up to 3 weeks. Only one brood is produced per season. Great Crested Flycatchers tend to nest at the same site every year.

Building a Birdhouse For The Great Crested Flycatcher

A birdhouse for a Great Crested Flycatcher should have an entrance hole that is at least 1 ¾ inches in diameter and 7-8 inches off the floor. The width (left to right) and breath (front to back) of the floor is 6 inches. Depth of the birdhouse at front should be 8-12 inches to prevent predators from reaching in to grab the eggs or nestlings. The birdhouse may be placed on a tree or post between 6-20 feet above ground near open woods. Hanging birdhouses 11-14 feet above ground is also recommended.

The Great Crested Flycatcher Mating Habits

Great Crested Flycatchers are socially monogamous. This means that one male and one female mate together and both adults take care of their young. Only one brood is produced in a nesting season.

The Great Crested Flycatcher Feeding Preferences

The diet of this species includes flying insects like beetles (50 kinds) along with wasps, bees, dragonflies, mosquitoes and other insects. It captures insects in mid-air. It also eats mulberries, blackberries, wild cherries and wild grapes.

Interesting Great Crested Flycatcher Facts

Most Great Crested Flycatchers place shed snakeskin and cellophane in their nests or near cavity entrances possibly to frighten off would-be predators like squirrels, hawks, owls and snakes. They are the only eastern flycatchers that nest in holes or cavities made by other animals, thus they are called secondary cavity nesters. They spend much of their time perched on treetops and prefer to fly from place to place on the ground rather than walk or hop. They are noisy and aggressive living mostly under forest canopies. They are much more often heard than seen than their black and white relative, the Eastern Kingbird.