South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Great Crested Flycatcher

Myiarchus crinitus

Length: 8.5 inches Wingspan: 12 - 14 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Bright yellow belly and undertail coverts, olive-green upperparts and head, gray throat and upper breast, thick black bill, shaggy gray crest.

Great Crested Flycatcher - Myiarchus crinitusThe Great Crested Flycatcher is one of the most colorful of flycatchers, with a bright lemon-yellow belly.  Unfortunately, they are most often found in the treetops and are easier to hear than to see.  They are sometimes fierce when defending their territories, and will go as far as pulling feathers out of birds who dare to intrude into their space. 

Habitat: During the summer breeding season, found in deciduous or mixed forests, avoiding pure conifer forests.  They can be found nearly anywhere within the forest habitat, from the deep forest to forest edges and clearings.  Winters in the tropics around second-growth forest or along woodland edges.

Diet: Primarily feeds on flying insects.  Will also eat other insects and spiders, fruits, berries, and occasionally small lizards.

Behavior: Forages by flycatching...flying out from a perch to catch flying insects.  Usually found high in the tree canopy, more often heard than seen.  Has the habit of adding shed snakeskins to their nest if they find one.

Nesting: Late May through June

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Strong musical wheep whistling, often repeated in series of 3 and more.  Click here to listen to the Great Crested Flycatcher song.

Migration: Summers in the eastern half of the United States and southeastern Canada.  Winters in Mexico southward through Columbia, with smaller numbers wintering in southern Florida.

Similar Species: Ash-throated Flycatcher, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Brown-crested Flycatcher

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Great Crested Flycatcher

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Great Crested Flycatcher"

3) Great Crested Flycatcher

Photo Information: July 4th, 2006 -- Big Sioux Rec. Area near Brandon -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Great Crested Flycatcher photos.


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Great-crested Flycatcher - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer resident throughout most of the state, although less common in the western part of the state.