Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Great Crested Flycatcher along the boardwalk...

With a sunshine-yellow belly and a loud, cheerful call, the Great Crested Flycatcher represents summer well. I don't get to see them often, though, because they like to hang out high in the canopy, so I was happy when one came into view along the boardwalk at Magee Marsh…

The famous lemon yellow belly of a Great Crested Flycatcher is always a welcome sight on a summer day.

Great Crested Flycatchers don't have much of a crest when they are at rest!

The little "whiskers" around the base of the bill are called "rictal bristles." They have a sensory function to help flycatchers snatch insects from the air.


...there's the start of the crest!
...and it's back down.
...and there we have it (not as "great" as a cardinal's crest, but pretty none-the-less). 

About rictal bristles...
Rictal bristles are modified contour feathers (the outer feathers you can see). Contour feathers have a central rachis (also called a shaft) from which the vanes (the feathery part) attach. A vane is made of individual barbs (filaments). A rictal bristle is a feather without the barbs…just the rachis.

Flycatchers have rictal bristles around their bills to help them sense flying insects, but rictal bristles can also be protective by helping to keep insects out of a bird's eyes, or in the case of woodpeckers, by helping to keep wood chips out of their eyes. If you want to learn more about feather structure, click here for info on Cornell's "All About Birds" site.

I saw this bird at the Biggest Week in American birding on the Magee Marsh boardwalk back in May.

16 comments:

Roy Norris said...

Really unusual colouring Kelly. With that grey colour you could think he was getting old.{:))

Sue said...

I saw my very first one of these just last week when hubby and I were out on a walk. We had to race right home and look it up. I'm sure they've always been here, but I never saw one before.
Have a wonderful 4th, Kelly!

Frank said...

Super views Kelly and with that colouration far more easy to ID than any of the Empidonax that I encountered on a US trip.

natureismytherapy.com said...

Ah, such awesome pics of his throat -- a lovely gray color I'd never noticed before. We had one of these guys vocalizing daily in our yard for most of May and early June. Haven't heard him for a while now though...I miss that loud call from the treetops that lets me know he's out there.
~Kim

Elaine said...

Gorgeous shots, Kelly! Looks like he's on the alert for some of those yummy insects.

Steve Borichevsky said...

What fun. I don't see them very ofter either. And when I do, they are generally in the canope. You have some wonderful images.

Janice K said...

Awesome pictures!! So up close!
I have never seen one.

Gillian Olson said...

Beautiful bird, love the belly and the little crest.

Banjo52 said...

As usual, the sharpness of your photos! Wow. The feathers on his head and throat remind me of dog fur. And, without checking on sizes, he reminds me of the eastern phoebe and the eastern king bird. But that yellow is mighty appealing.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Fantastic photos, Kelly. Another pretty little bird--love the yellow belly.

Kathie Brown said...

Great shots of this noisy summer bird! I just love them!

Tammie Lee said...

you honor birds so beautifully with your images of them!

Chris Rohrer said...

Very nice pictures of this bird up close. I have seen them several times now but they are usually high up on the trees or at least mid level. I think this is a stunner of a Flycatcher!

Log Cabin Studio said...

Kelly, you are an amazing photographer!Thanks for sharing.

Kelly said...

…thanks, everyone for the lovely comments! I love seeing Great Crested Flycatchers, and I don't see them that often, so this sightly was really nice.

Margaret said...

Fascinating