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Species Description

Great Crested Flycatcher

Myiarchus crinitus

Species Image


Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Tyrannidae


Olive-gray above; primaries and tail have a rusty tinge; gray throat; yellow belly and undertail coverts; olive sides; buffy wingbars. 20 cm (8 in) in length. Large wide bill. The slight crest may be "greater" than that of some similar species, but it is hardly spectacular overall.

Life Cycle

The breeding season begins in late March, peaks from May until early June, and extends to early July. Breeding habitat includes a variety of wooded areas. The nest may be within a natural cavity, a cavity excavated by a woodpecker, or a nesting box. Both adults build the nest from leaves, grass, and other plant material. Commonly other materials such as fur, feathers, and shed snake skins are also placed in the nest. The female lays 4-8 (usually 5) eggs that she incubates for 13-15 days. The young are altricial and usually fledge 14-15 days after hatching. Both adults care for the young while they are in the nest.

Natural History

Non-breeding habitat includes locations similar to open wooded areas that serve as the breeding habitat. The diet of this species is mostly insects, but sometimes includes berries and lizards. Most insects are found while the bird is sitting on a perch. This flycatcher then flies out and capture the insects in mid-air. Other food is found and captured on the ground or vegetation. This species is migratory.


Great Crested Flycatcher Region Map The Great Crested Flycatcher occurs throughout the eastern United States during the breeding season. Wintering birds can be seen in extreme southern Florida south to northern South America. In Georgia, this species occurs only during the breeding season. Individuals are more common in the southern portions of the state.

Conservation Status

Some nesting cavities this species uses may be taken over by the more dominant and non-native European Starling. However, this species is common and is not listed as requiring any special conservation attention in any portion of its southeastern range.

Similar Species

The Great Crested Flycatcher is similar in appearance to the Brown-crested Flycatcher, a paler bird with a pale yellow belly and undertail coverts and an almost white throat and breast. Another common species in the Southeast that is roughly the same size as the Great Crested Flycatcher is the Eastern Kingbird. The Eastern Kingbird has dark upperparts and is white underneath.