Sunday, May 23, 2010
Brown-crested Flycatchers: Let's Do Lunch
Here's a link to an earlier post about their arrival for the breeding season.) Looking at the first photo above, it's obvious how they got their name: the hapless fly grasped in the flycatcher's strong fly-catching beak looks like one I photographed a while ago (the photo is in this post) and the brown crest, unlike the crests of some birds, is always standing tall.
That's what this one to the left is doing. (You can tell it's singing because of its puffed up throat, what poets call "full-throated.") I love the song. It sounds to me like "come over here; come over here!", with kind of a warbly and rolling, but at the same time slightly buzzy, quality. The call is a short "whit!". It's puzzling why they sing so close to the nest. Sitting on a branch within just a few feet of the nest, They sing and then quickly slip into the box, brown tail sticking out slightly from the entry hole. Click on the photo to see what treat this bird has for the babies.
Last summer Brown-crested Flycatchers nested in a birdhouse further out along the drive, a location they have chosen for about ten years. Before that they nested in railroad ties turned on end that decorated the end of the drive by the road. The first site was abandoned because it became so overgrown with bougainvillea and esperanza. I can't see an obvious reason for abandoning the second site except that this new box must have just looked homier.
When Summer Tanagers migrated through the valley a couple of weeks ago, they sat in the same fiddlewood tree as the flycatchers and snapped at bees, which seems to be their favorite food. Here's one of my favorite pictures (taken the first week I had my camera last fall) of a female tanager eating a bee. You could clearly hear her strong tanager beak snap snap snap as she sat there in the tree.
I'm glad this is one photo I had saved already to my Picassa album, before the big computer crash. It's another instance when I didn't discover what I was looking at until I examined the photo. For some reason (maybe because I was struggling to figure out how the camera worked) I thought I was taking a picture of a female oriole and never even saw the bee in the tanager's obviously tanager-beak until I looked at the photo!
I still haven't found what nest cavity the Ladder-backs are nesting in, but I'm on the trail and am sure it is close by. I'll probably find it when they start bringing home carry-out for the hungry nestlings.