The Bird Book/Tyrant Flycatchers
FLYCATCHERS. Family TYRANNIDyE
Flycatchers, which are found only in America and chiefly in the tropics, are insect-eating birds, generally having a grayish colored plumage, sometimes adorned with a slight crest or a coronal mark of orange, red, or yellow. Only two of the species found in North America are gaudy in plumage, the Vermilion, and the Derby Flycatchers. They all have the habit of sitting erect on a dead twig, and watching for passing insects, which they catch on the wing.
[442.] FORK-TAILED FLYCATCHER. Muscivora tryannus.
Range. A Central and South American species accidentally having occurred in the United States on several occasions.
This is a handsome black, white and gray species of the size and form of the next.
443. SCISSOR-TAILED FLYCATCHER. MuSClVOTa forficdtd.
Range. Mexico, north through Texas to southern Kansas; accidental in other parts of the country.
The Scissor-tail or "Texan Bird of Paradise" is the most beautiful member of this interesting family. Including its long tail, often 10 inches in length and forked for about 6 inches,
this Flycatcher reaches a
length of about 15 inches.
It is pale grayish above,
fading into whitish below,
and has scarlet linings to
the wings, and a scarlet
crown patch. They are
one of the most abundant
of the breeding birds in
Texas, placing their iara;e
roughly built nests in all kinds of trees and at any elevation, but averaging between ten and fifteen feet above ground. The nests are built of rootlets, grasses, weeds and trash of all kinds, such as paper, rags, string, etc. The interior is generally lined with plant fibres, hair or wool. They lay from three to five, and rarely six eggs with a creamy white ground color, more or less spotted and blotched with reddish brown, lilac and gray, the markings generally being most numerous about the larger end. They average in size about .90 x .67. Data. Corpus Christi, Texas, May 18, 1899. 6 eggs. Nest of moss, vines, etc., on small trees in open woods near town. Collector, Frank B. Armstrong.
444. KINGBIRD. Tyrannus tyrannus.
Range. Temperate North America, breeding from the Gulf of Mexico north to New Brunswick, Manitoba and British Columbia; rare off the Pacific coast.
This common Tyrant Flycatcher is very abundant in the eastern parts of its range. They are one of the most pugnacious and courageous of birds attacking and driving away any feathered creature to which they take a dislike, regardless of size. Before and during the nesting season, their sharp, nerve-racking clatter is kept up all day long, and with redoubled vigor when anyone approaches their nesting site. They nest in any kind of a tree,
in fields or open woods, and at any height from the ground, being found on fence rails within two feet of the ground or in the tops of pines 70 or 80 feet above the earth. Nearly every orchard will be found to contain one or
THE BIRD BOOK
more pairs of these great insect destroyers ; if more than one pair, there will be continual warfare as often as one encroaches on the domains of the other. Their nests are made of strips of vegetable fibre, weeds, etc., and lined with horsehair or catkins. They are sometimes quite bulky and generally very substantially made. The three to five eggs are laid the latter part of May, and are of a creamy ground color splashed with reddish brown and lilac. Size .95 x .70. Data. Worcester County, Massachusetts, June 3, 1895. 4 eggs. Nest 10 feet from the ground in an apple tree; made of fibres, string, rootlets and weeds, lined with horse hair. Collector, F. C. Clark.
G. E. Mpulthrope NEST AND EGGS OF KINGBIRD
445. GRAY KINGBIRD.
Tyrannus dominie ensis.
Range. West Indies; north in April to Florida and the South Atlantic States to South Carolina and casually farther.
This species is slightly larger than our Kingbird, (9 inches long), grayish instead of dark drab above, white below, and without any white tip to tail. Like the common Kingbird, it has a concealed orange patch on the crown. Their habits and nesting habits are the same as those of our common bird, but the nest is not generally as well built, and nearly always is made largely of
twigs. The three or four eggs have a creamy or a creamy pink ground color, spotted and blotched with dark brown and lilac, most numerously about the large end. Size 1.00 x .73. Tarpon Springs, Florida, May 28, 1802. Nest of twigs and weeds in a low bush. Collector, J. A. Southley.
446. COUCH'S KINGBIRD. Tyrannus melanclwlicus couchi.
Range. Mexico, north in summer to southern Texas.
This species is very similar to the next but the throat and breast are white, and the underparts a brighter yellow. Like the other members of this genus, these build their nests in any location in trees or bushes, making them of twigs, weeds and moss. Their three or four eggs have a creamy ground with a pinkish cast and are spotted with brown and lilac. Size .97 x .12.
447. ARKANSAS KINGBIRD. Tyrannus verticalis.
Range. Western United States and southern British Provinces from Kansas and Minnesota west to the Pacific. '
This species has grayish upper parts, shading into darker on the wings and tail, and lighter on the throat and upper breast; the underparts are yellow, and there is a concealed patch of orange on the crown. They are very abundant throughout the west, where they have the same familiar habits of the eastern species, nesting in all sorts of locations such as would be used by the latter. Their nests are made of plant fibres, weeds, string, paper or any trash that may be handy, being sometimes quite bulky. Their eggs do not differ in any particular from those of the eastern bird, except that they may average a Uttle smaller. Size .95x.65.
THE BIRD BOOK
448. CASSIN'S KINGBIRD.
Range. Western United States from the Rocky Mountain region to California, and from Wyoming southward.
This species is like the last except that the throat and breast are darker. Their
habits, nesting habits and eggs are indistinguishable from those of the other Tyrant Flycatchers, and they are fully as courageous in the defense of their homes against either man or bird, their notes resembling those of the common Kingbird of the east.
. DERBY FLYCATCHER. Pitangus sulphuratus derbianus.
Range. Mexico and Central America, breeding north to southern Texas. This handsome bird is the largest of the Flycatcher family found in the
United States, being 11 inches in length. It has a black crown enclosing a yellow crown patch; a broad black stripe from the
,-./ " bill, through the eye and around the back of the
head, is separated from the crown by a white forehead and line over the eye; the throat is white shading into yellow on the underparts. They are abundant in the interior of Mexico, but can hardly be classed as common over our border, where they nest in limited numbers. Their nests are unlike those of any of our other Flycatchers being large masses of moss, weeds and grass, arched over on
top and with the entrance on the side. The three or four eggs are creamy white,
sprinkled chiefly about the large end with small reddish brown or umber spots ;
451. SULPHUR-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. Myiodynastes luteiventris .
Range. Mexico and Central America, breeding north to the Mexican border of Arizona.
This peculiar Flycatcher, which is unlike any other American species, can only be regarded as a rare breeding bird in the Huachuca Mts. It is 8 inches in length, has a grayish back streaked with
black, the tail largely rusty brown and the underparts sulphur yellow, streaked on the breast and sides with dusky; a yellow crown patch is bordered on either side by a stripe of mottled dusky, and is separated from the blackish patch through the eye, by white superciliary lines. Their habits are similar to those of the genus Myiarchus, and, like them, they nest in cavities in trees, and lay from three to five eggs of a creamy buff color thickly spotted and blotched with brown and purplish, the markings not assuming the scratchy appearance of the Crested Flycatchers, but looking more like those of a Cardinal; size of egg 1.05 x .75. Data. Huachuca Mts., Arizona, June 29, 1901. 4 eggs. Nest in the natural cavity of a live sycamore tree about fifty feet from the ground; composed of twigs. Collector, O. W. Howard.
4-52. CRESTED FLYCATCHER. Myiarchns crinitus.
Range. North America, east of the Plains, and from New Brunswick and Manitoba southward; winters from the Gulf States southward.
This trim and graceful, but quarrelsome, species is grayish on the head, neck, and breast, shading to greenish on the back and quite abruptly into bright yellow on the underparts; the head is slightly crested and the inner webs of all the lateral tail feathers are reddish brown. They are abundant in most of their range but are generally shy so they are not as often seen as many other more rare birds. They nest in cavities of any kind of trees and at any elevation from the ground, the nest being made of Huff
twigs, weeds and trash, and generally having incorporated
into its make-up a piece of cast off snake skin. They lay from four to six eggs of a buffy color, blotched and lined with dark brown and lavender. Size .85 x .65.
THE BIRD BOOK
ARIZONA CRESTED FLYCATCHER. Myiarchus magister magister.
Range. Southern Arizona and New Mexico, south through Mexico.
This bird is very similar to, but averages slightly larger than the Mexican Flycatcher. Its nesting habits are the same and the eggs cannot be distinguished from those of the latter, the nest being most frequently found in giant cacti.
453a. MEXICAN CRESTED FLYCATCHER. Myiarchus magister nelsoni.
Range. Mexico, north to southern Texas.
This species is similar to the last but is considerably paler. They are common in some localities, nesting in holes in trees or stumps, often those deserted by Woodpeckers. Their eggs are like those of the last but average paler. Data. Corpus Christi, Texas, May 10, 1899. Nest in hole in telegraph pole; made of red cow hair, feathers and leaves. 4 eggs. Collector, Prank B. Armstrong,
454. ASH-THROATED FLYCATCHER. Myiarchus cinerascens cinerascens.
Range. North America, west of the Plains and south of Canada.
Similar to the others of the genus but grayish brown above and with the underparts much paler, the throat and breast being nearly white. Like the others they nest in cavities in trees, either natural or ones made by Woodpeckers. Their four to five eggs are lighter in color than those of crinitus but cannot be distinguished from those of the Mexican Crested Flycatcher.
454b. LOWER CALIFORNIA FLYCATCHER. Myiarchus cinerascens pertinax.
Range. Lower California.
This sub-species is similar to Nutting Flycatcher but paler below and grayish above.
455a. OLIVACEOUS FLY CATCHER. Myiarchus lawrencei olivascens.
Range. Western Mexico, north to southern Arizona.
This is the smallest of the genus found in the United States, being but 7 inches in length. Except for size it is
similar to crinitus but with
very little, if any, rusty brown
on tail, except for a slight
edging on the outer web.
Their nesting sites are the
same as those chosen by the other Crested Flycatcher, but their eggs appear
to have but little of the scratchy appearance of the other members. They are
pale buffy, speckled and spotted with brown and lilac; size .80 x .60. Data. Toluca, Mexico, May 20, 1895. Nest of brown hair and feathers, in hole in tree
in woods. Collector, Fred T. Francis.
4-56. PHCEBE. Sayornis phoebe.
Range. North America, east of the Rockies and north to Nova Scotia.
These very common, grayish colored birds are very often known as "Bridge Birds" because of the frequency with which they construct their nests under bridges and arches; they also build in crevices in ledges or among the hanging roots near the tops of embankments, and on the rafters or beams of old buildings. The nests are made of mud, moss and grass, lined with feathers. The four or five eggs measure .75 x .55. Occasionally, eggs will be found that have a few minute spots of reddish brown. Freak situations in which to locate their nests are often chosen by these birds, such as white the brake beam of a freight car, in the crevices of old wells, hen houses, etc. The birds are one of the most useful that we have; being very active and continually on the alert for insects and beetles that constitute their whole bill of fare.
G. E. Moulthrope
PHOEBE ON NEST
457. SAY'S PH<EBE. Sayornis sayus.
Range. Western United States, breeding from southern United States, north to the Arctic regions, and from Kansas and Wisconsin westward. Winters in Mexico.
This bird is slightly larger than the last (7.5 inches long), and is rusty brown color on the belly and lower breast. Like the eastern Phoebes they are one of the earliest birds to return in the spring and are abundant in the greater parts of their range. Like the latter, they often raise two broods a season, one in April and another in V , July. Their nests are gener ally placed on narrow shelves White and crevices of ledges, but
they also nest as commonly about houses and farms as does the eastern bird. The nests are made of weeds, mosses, fibres and wool, and are quite flat. They lay four or five white eggs. Size .78 x .58.
458. BLACK PHCEBE. Sayornis nigricans.
Range. Mexico and north in summer into the bordering States.
This species is of the size of the last but is blackish (darkest on the head and breast),
with a white belly and under
tail coverts, the latter streaked with dusky. Their habits
and nesting habits are the
same as those of the eastern
Phoebe, they building their
nests of mud, moss, weeds
and feathers on ledges or about buildings, and generally close to or in the vicinity of water. They breed during April or May, laying four or five white eggs which cannot be distinguished from those of the common Phoebe. Size .75 x .55.
4J8a. WESTERN BLACK PHCEBE. Sayornis nigricans semiatra.
Range. Pacific Coast of Mexico and the United States, breeding north to Oregon.
This variety differs from the last in having the under tail coverts pure white. Its nesting habits are precisely the same and the eggs indistinguishable.
THE BIRD BOOK
459. OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER.
Range. Whole of North America, breeding from the Middle States and California northward, and in the Rockies, south to Mexico; winters south of the United States.
These Flycatchers are nowhere abundant, and in some parts of the country, especially in the middle portion, they are very rare. They breed very 1^^
locally and generally not /#jiT more than one pair in any locality. In New England, L have always found them nesting in company with Parula Warblers, in dead coniferous swamps in which the branches are covered with long pendant moss, Their nests are placed high up in the trees, ^ generally above fifty feet from the ground, and
r "C^SL ^ on small horizontal limbs; they are made of
small twigs and rootlets, lined with finer rootlets and moss, and are very flat and shallow; as they are generally made to match the surrounding, they are one of the most difficult nests to find. They lay three or four cream colored eggs which are spotted with reddish brown and lilac, chiefly about the large end. Size .85 x .65. Data. Lake Quinsigamond, Massachusetts, June 12, 1897. Nest of twigs and moss, about 60 feet above the ground, in a dead pine tree in center of a large wet swamp. Nest could not be seen from the ground, and was found by watching the birds.
4*60. COUES'S FLYCATCHER. Myiochanes pertinax pallidiventris.
Range. Western Mexico, breeding north to central Arizona.
This Flycatcher builds one of the most artistic nests created by feathered creatures. It bears some resemblance on the exterior to that of the next species, but it is much more firmly made, and the walls are usually higher, making a very deeply cupped interior. The outside of the nest is made of fibres, cobwebs, catkins, etc., firmly felted together and ornamented with green lichens to match the limb upon which it is saddled. The interior is heavily lined with dried, yellowish grasses, making a very strong contrast to the exterior. They are fairly abundant birds in the ranges of southern Arizona, where they nest generally during June. They lay three eggs of a rich creamy color, spotted and blotched, chiefly about the larger end, with reddish brown and lilac gray. Size .95 x .61. Data. Huachuca Mts., Arizona, July 8, 1897. 3 eggs. Nest in a yellow pine about 60 feet up and near the extremity of a long slender limb. Elevation 7000 feet. Collector, O. W. Howard.
461. WOOD PEWEE. Myiochanes virens.
Range. North America, east of the Plains
and north to Ihe southern parts of the British
Provinces. Winters south of the United States.
This is one of the best
known and one of the most
common frequenters of open
woods, where all summer
long its pleasing notes may
be heard, resembling "Pee-a wee" or sometimes only two
syllables "pee-wee." They nest on horizontal limbs at elevations of six feet or over, making handsome nests of plant fibres and fine grasses, covered on the exterior with lichens; they are quite shallow and very much resembles a small knot on the limb of the tree. They lay three or four eggs of a ceram color spotted in a wreath about the large end, with reddish brown and lavender; size .80 x .55. Data. Torrington, Conn., June 16, 1890. Nest of fibres covered with lichens, saddled on the branch of an oak tree near roadside. Collector, John Gath. Wood Pewee
Chickadee Family 291
Guy H. Briggs NEST AND EGGS OF WOOD PEWEE
462. WESTERN WOOD PEWEE.
Myiochanes richardsoni richardsom.
Range. Western United States from the Plains to the Pacific, and from Manitoba southward, wintering south of the United States.
The nesting habits of this bird are the same as those of the eastern Pewee, but their nests are more strongly built and generally deeper, and without the outside ornamentation of lichens. They are saddled upon horizontal branches, like those of the preceding, as a rule, but are also said to have been found in upright crotches like those of the Least Flycatcher. Their three or four eggs cannot be distinguished from those of the eastern Wood Pewee.
462a. LARGE-BILLED WOOD PEWEE. Mi/iochanes richardsoni peninsulas.
Range. This species which differs from the last only slightly, as is indicated by the name, inhabits the peninsula of Lower California; its nesting habits and eggs will not differ from those of the other Pewees.
463. YELLOW-BELLIED FLYCATCHER. Empidonax flaviventris.
Range. North America, east of the Plains and north to Labrador; winters
south of the United States.
This species is slightly larger than the Least Flycatcher and is more yellowish above and below, the breast being quite bright. , While common in some districts it is quite shy and frequents *
thickly wooded regions, where it is not very often seen. They '<*
nest near or on the ground among rocks or roots of fallen trees. \< * ;"
chiefly in swampy places; the nests are made in bunches of * v
moss, hollowed out and lined with very fine grasses. Their four
eggs are creamy or buffy white, spotted and speckled about the larger end with
reddish brown and gray; size .68 x .51.
464. WESTERN FLYCATCHER. Empidonax diffictyis difficilis.
Range. Western North America, from the Rocky Mountain region to the Pacific, and north to Alaska; winters chiefly south of the United States.
This Flycatcher, which is similar to the last, nests in similar >' r - locations as well as in many others, such as crevices and fissures
in rocks, holes in banks, cavities in trees, rafters in buildings, etc. The nests are variously made, but consist chiefly of fine grasses, weeds and fibres. The eggs are as a rule similar to Cream v white those of the last species and cannot be distinguished.
THE BIRD BOOK
464a. SAN LUCAS FLYCATCHER.
Empidonax difficilis cineritius.
Range. Lower California.
This species is similar to, but duller in plumage than the Western Flycatcher. Their nesting habits do not probably vary from those of the latter.
465. ACADIAN FLYCATCHER. Empidonax virescens.
Range. Eastern United States, breeding from the Gulf to southern New England, and in the Mississippi Valley to Manitoba.
This species is very pale below and greenish yellow on the back. They are among the latest of the migrants to reach our borders and arrive in the Middle States about the latter part of May, when they are quite common. They build semi-pensile nests in the forks of bushes or overhanging branches at heights of from four to twenty feet, the nests being made of rootlets, fibres, fine grasses, etc., and partially suspended from the branch; they are quite shallow and loosely constructed and often appear more like a bunch of debris deposited in the fork by the wind than like the creation of a bird. Their three or four eggs are buffy, spotted or specked with brown; size .75 x .55.
466. TRAILL'S FLYCATCHER. Empidonax trailli trailli.
Range. Western North America, from the Mississippi Valley to the Pacific; winters south of the United States.
This species is very similar to the next, but the back is said to be more brownish. They are common and nest abundantly in thickets and low scrubby woods, usually placing the nest at a low elevation, preferably in a clump of willows ; the nests are made of fine strips of bark, plant fibres, and very fine rootlets being woven about and firmly fastened in upright Creamy white crotches. Their eggs, which are laid in June, are buffy white, specked and spotted, chiefly at the large end, with brownish ; sixe .70 x .54.
466a. ALDER FLYCATCHER.
Empidonax trailli alnorum.
Range. United States, east of the Mississippi and north to New Brunswick.
The only difference between this and the preceding variety is in the more greenish upper parts. They are quite abundant in the breeding season from New England and northern New York northward, frequenting, to a great extent, alder thickets bordering streams. Their nests and eggs do not differ appreciably from those of the western variety of Traill Flycatcher.
467- LEAST FLYCATCHER. Empidonax minimus.
Range. North America, east of the Rockies
and north to the interior of Canada, wintering
south of the United States.
These little birds (5.5 inches long) are common about houses
and orchards on the outskirts of cities, and on the edges of forests or open woods. They are very frequently known by the name of Chebec from their continually uttered note. In nearly all instances, the nests are placed in upright forks at elevations varying from four to twenty-four feet from the ground. The
nests are made chiefly of plant fibres, fine grasses, string, cobwebs, etc., and
the three to five eggs are pale creamy white; size .65 x .50.
468. HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER. Empidonax hammondi.
Range. North America, west of the Rockies and from British Columbia southward, wintering south of the United States.
This western representative of the Least Flycatcher is less abundant and more shy, but has the same nesting habits as the eastern birds, placing its nests either in upright crotches or, more rarely, upon horizontal branches at a low elevation. The eggs cannot be distinguished from those of the last species.
469. WRIGHT'S FLYCATCHER. Empidona.r wrighti.
Range/ Western United States, breeding from the Mexican border to Oregon and wintering south of the United States.
A very similar bird to the last but whiter ^"~ below. It is a much more abundant species
/ than the last and is found breeding In open
woods and thickets on all the ranges. The nests are built like those of the Least Flycatcher and nearly always are found in the crotch of trees or bushes at a low eleation; their nests, like those of the two preceding species, bear a strong resemblance to those of the Yellow Warblers which are found in the same localities and locations. The eggs are pale creamy white, four in number and measure .68 x .52,
THE BIRD BOOK
469-1- GRAY FLYCATCHER. Emptdonax griseus.
Range. Lower California, north to southern California.
This is a slightly larger species than the preceding and is grayish above and paler below, with little or no tinge of brownish or yellow. As far as I can learn its eggs have not yet been taken.
470a. BUFF-BREASTED FLYCATCHER. Empidonax fulvifrons pygmceus.
Range. Western Mexico, north to southern New Mexico and Arizona.
This small bird, which is but 4.75 inches in length, is brownish gray above and brownish buff below. It is not a common species anywhere, but is known to nest during June or July, on high mountain ranges, saddling its nest of fibres, covered with lichens, on horizontal boughs at quite an elevation from the ground. The eggs are pale buffy white, unspotted, and measure .60 x .50.
471- VERMILLION FLYCATCHER. Pyrocephalus rubinus mexicanus.
Range. Mexico, north regularly to southern Texas, Arizona and New Mexico.
This is one of the most gaudy attired of all North American birds, being brownish gray on the back, wings and tail, and having a bright vermillion crown, crest and underparts. They are quite common in southern Texas, but far more abundant in the southern parts of Arizona. Their habits do not differ from those of other Flycatchers, they living almost exclusively upon insects. The majority of their nests can not be distinguished from those of the Wood Pewee, being covered with lichens and saddled upon limbs in a similar manner, but some lack the mossy ornamentation. Their three or four eggs are Buff
buffy, boldly blotched with dark brown and lavender, chiefly in a wreath about the middle of the egg; size .70 x .50. Data. San Pedro River, Arizona, June 10, 1899. Nest in the fork of a willow about 20 feet above the stream. Collector, O. W. Howard.
472. BEARDLESS FLYCATCHER. Camptostoma imberbe.
Range. Central America; north casually to the Lower Rio Grande in Texas.
This strange little Flycatcher, several specimens of which have been taken in the vicinity of Lomita, Texas, is but 4.5 inches in length, grayish in color and has a short bill, the upper mandible of which is curved. It has all the habits peculiar to Flycatchers. Their eggs have not as yet been found as far as I can learn.