Thursday, March 30, 2017

Great Crested Flycatcher back from the tropics...

This morning I stepped onto my doorstep to be greeted by the reeeep! of a Great Crested Flycatcher, my first of the spring. The species nests on my block, as it does widely in residential areas in and around New Orleans where there are large shade trees.  They are quite noisy from the time they arrive back until mid summer, after which they quiet down (as is typical of most nesting species in late summer).  After that, they can be surprisingly good at escaping detection- I might hear or see the local nesting pair only a handful of times from then until they leave in September.

The Great Crested is one of only a handful of neotropical migrants- the technical name for birds in our hemisphere that travel all the way to the tropics to winter- that spend their nesting season in residential New Orleans.  The others are Chimney Swift, Purple Martin, Mississippi Kite, and Bronzed Cowbird. Martins and cowbirds have been back for some time, and I heard my first report of a swift today, in City Park.  Mississippi Kites are likely to take a couple more weeks to make it up to our latitude. 

Several other neotropical migrants nest within our urban landscape but typically avoid residential yards- such as the Cliff and Barn Swallows under some of our bridges, the Eastern Kingbirds in some of our open spaces, and the Least and Gull-billed Terns on a handful of our large gravel rooftops.   Outside the city, in shady hardwoods especially, there are many more- a host of flycatchers, vireos, warblers, thrushes, buntings, and others, which turn places like the Honey Island Swamp or Jean Lafitte Park into a smorgasbord of song during the nesting season.

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