As I make my way somewhat alphabetically through my catalogue of bird photographs, I find myself at ‘F,’ and you might think “finches.” But, today, I want to talk about a bird that is often heard but less often seen – the Great Crested Flycatcher. This songbird is relatively common in the eastern US and well into the Midwest, but is not commonly spotted by the casual observer. They tend to stay in the treetops, out of sight to all but the avid birder with neck strain.
It is more likely that you’ve heard this musical wonder, though. If you wonder, I suggest a visit to Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology online, where you can play a snippet of the GCF’s song. If you’ve spent any time in the forest, or even the golf course – anywhere with tall trees – you’ll likely recognize the “weep, weep, weep” song.
Flycatchers, as their name implies, feed mainly on insects, which is part of the reason for their propensity to stay high in the trees. They await their prey, launching to snatch their meal from the sky, or from a nearby leaf or twig. If you’re persistent enough to spot one of these birds, you’ll be just as likely to see him or her in action.
So, the next time you hear that characteristic birdsong, don’t be afraid to give that neck a workout – look to the treetops, and you just may find the Great Crested Flycatcher, singing and dining!