Great Crested Flycatcher

Myiarchus crinitus
Great Crested Flycatcher specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A medium-sized (8-9 inches) flycatcher, the Great Crested Flycatcher is most easily identified by its olive head and back, brownish tail, and bright yellow belly. Other field marks include a gray breast and throat, faint white wing bars, and a thick black bill. Male and female Great Crested Flycatchers are similar to one another at all seasons. The Great Crested Flycatcher breeds across much of the eastern United States and southern Canada west to the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains. In winter, this species migrates south primarily to southern Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Small numbers spend the winter in southern Florida. Great Crested Flycatchers breed in a variety of open woodland habitat types. In winter, this species may be found in clearings and edges of humid tropical forests. Great Crested Flycatchers primarily eat insects, but may also eat fruits and berries at any time of the year. Great Crested Flycatchers may be observed flying out from perches to catch insects in the air or “hovering” near vegetation while picking insects off leaves and twigs. In the breeding season, males sing a loud “wheeeep!” song, although this is generally performed from perches hidden in the canopy. Great Crested Flycatchers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species often migrates at night.

DC Information

Common breeding and transient bird, migrating to this region in April and May, nesting from mid-May to August, and migrating south in August and September. Found usually in wood margins and open forests. Sexes are similar.

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC17146 Myiarchus crinitus (Great Crested Flycatcher)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC10722 Myiarchus crinitus (Great Crested Flycatcher)

Sound from xeno-canto. XC11479 Myiarchus crinitus (Great Crested Flycatcher)