Tyrant Flycatchers

Tyrant Flycatchers are a family of perching birds that are found all throughout North and South America. In this family there are more than 400 species which makes this family one of the largest. Most flycatchers are arboreal (living in trees). They are usually gray, brown, or dark green in color with some brighter colors.
Great-crested Flycatcher at Murphy Farm
Great-crested Flycatcher at Murphy-Chambers Farm.
© Bill Telfair

Great-crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus)

• Great-crested Flycatchers like to weave shed snakeskin into their nest materials. They also sometimes use onion skins, cellophane, or plastic wrappers.
• These birds love to spend their time in the treetops and they spend very little time on the ground. They do not hop or walk and they prefer to fly from place to place on the ground rather than walk.
• Great-crested Flycatchers are swift and agile fliers that are very persistent when chasing prey.
• They love to eat insects and other invertebrates (animals without a backbone) but they will also eat small berries and other fruits.

Identification Information

• Size: Robin sized (Medium)
• Color: Great-crested Flycatchers are reddish/brown on their backs and wings. They have a brownish/gray head, a gray throat, and bright yellow belly. They have a black beak.
Eastern Phoebe sitting in a tree on Virginius Island with its head turned toward the left.
Eastern Phoebe on Virginius Island.
© Bill Telfair

Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe)

• Unlike most birds, Eastern Phoebes will often reuse nests year after year. Sometimes Barn Swallows will use them in between the Eastern Phoebes use.
• Eastern Phoebes are loners and rarely come into contact with other phoebes. Even mates do not spend much time together.
• Eastern Phoebes really love to eat flying insects like wasps, beetles, dragonflies, butterflies, moths, flies, and cicadas. They will also eat spiders, ticks, millipedes, and occasionally small fruits or seeds.
• Female Eastern Phoebes like to construct their nests using mud, moss, leaves mixed with grass stems, and animal hair. Only the female builds the nest but the male usually accompanies her to gather materials and build.

Identification Information

• Size: Sparrow sized or smaller (Small)
• Color: Eastern Phoebes are a brownish/gray on their backs and wing feathers and they are an off white on their bellies. Their head is usually their darkest feature.
All of the above information is an abbreviated version of information gathered from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Please visit their website for more in-depth bird information.

Last updated: September 16, 2019

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Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
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