Great Crested Flycatcher
|Conservation status||Could be vulnerable to loss of forest habitat, but current populations apparently stable.|
|Habitat||Woodlands, groves. Breeds mainly in deciduous forest or mixed forest, but avoids pure stands of conifers. May be found in either continuous deep forest or in more open wooded areas, around edges of clearings or abandoned orchards. Winters in the tropics mostly around edges of forest or second growth.|
Forages by flying out from a perch to catch insects. May hover momentarily while taking insects from foliage or twigs, or may catch them in mid-air. Sometimes drops down to take food from on or near the ground, but usually feeds rather high.
5, sometimes 4-6, rarely more. Creamy white to pale buff, marked with brown, olive, lavender. Incubation is by female only, about 13-15 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 12-18 days.
Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 12-18 days.
Mostly insects. Feeds on a wide variety of insects, including caterpillars, moths, butterflies, katydids, tree crickets, beetles, true bugs, and others. Also eats spiders and sometimes small lizards, and regularly eats fruits and berries. Small fruits may be a major part of diet in winter in the tropics.
Male defends nesting territory with loud calls, sometimes by fighting with other males. Courtship may involve male chasing female among the trees. Nest site is usually in hole in tree, either natural cavity or old woodpecker hole, usually 20-50' above the ground. Sometimes nests in artificial sites such as birdhouses, drainpipes, or hollow fence posts. Both sexes help build nest; in deep cavities, they may carry in large amounts of material, to bring the nest level up close to the entrance. Nest foundation is made of grass, weeds, strips of bark, rootlets, feathers, or other debris, lined with finer materials. Usually includes a piece of snakeskin in lining (or sometimes a piece of clear plastic instead).
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Winters mainly from Mexico to Colombia; also winters regularly in southern Florida. Migrates mostly at night.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA loud, whistled, slightly buzzy wheep, sometimes repeated. Also a raucous whit-whit-whit-whit.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Great Crested Flycatcher
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the Great Crested Flycatcher
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.