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Friday, June 1, 2012

Flycatchers and Yellowbilled Cuckoos

One of the more common summer birds is the great crested flycatcher. It's call is a loud WHEEEP! They are seldom seen because they tend to stay in one place and do not create any movement among the dense foliage of summer. I usually find them along wooded river corridors. At Lafayette Trace park along White river, I stand on the boat ramp and see them across the river. I saw 4 or 5 last week and I saw a pair checking out a hole in the end of a sycamore tree branch about thirty feet above the ground. I have since see the pair sitting motionless just a few feet from this spot, but I have not seen them go in. The open expanse of thriver provides an opportunity to see them without the interference of trees. I do believe they are nesting in this hole,as they are cavity nesters. At the same spot in past years, I have also seen Yellowbilled cuckoos, another very elusive bird that is usually only heard. A pair is this year visiting the same area. It would be interesting to know if they are the same ones I have seen in the past. Yellow billed cuckoos are one of my favorite birds. They are very longtailed and slender and have very delicate coloring. I was able to see the telltale lower yellow bill with my 22x binoculars. The Blackbills are almost identical and share the same range. I have never seen one of them. The Great Crested flycatchers share the long tails and ruffous wings as well as delicate coloring. The yellow bills are more active, searching restlessly for caterpillars. Observing these birds requires that you hear their calls and remain motionless until they move. They are about the size and shape as grackles.It would be very difficult to walk through the woods and see them. Patience and remaining motionless is important. In the same area, I hear Northern Parula warblers and warbling vireos. I have seen one of each over years of watching. Both also seem to remain motionless.
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