The Great Crested Flycatcher is a cavity nester. They prefer to nest in
deciduous or mixed woodland near a clearing or woodland edge. Natural
cavities are preferred, but they will readily use a well designed nest box
placed in suitable habitat from 10 to 70 feet above the ground and with a
1.5 to 2.5 inch entrance hole.
Both parents build a nest of dead leaves, twigs, grass, feathers and
pieces of snakeskin or cellophane. From 4 to 5 eggs, incubated by both
parents, hatch in 13 to 15 days. Both parents care for the young until they
leave the nest in about 2 weeks. Only one brood is produced in a nesting
According to the web page of the Bird Banding Lab, a total of 18,941
Great Crested Flycatchers were banded between 1955 and 2000. Of these, 88
have been encountered, an encounter rate of 0.46%. Banding studies show that
these birds return to the same breeding area year after year, and can live
up to 11 years in the wild.
If you should recover a banded bird, you can report the band number to
the Bird Banding Lab by calling 1-800-327-BAND.
Economic Importance and Conservation Status
Great Crested Flycatchers perform a natural pest control service. They
consume more than 50 kinds of beetles, along with wasps, bees, sawflies,
stable flies, mosquitoes, grasshoppers, crickets, katydids, moths,
caterpillars, cicadas and other insects. Their diet also consists of various
berries such as mulberries, pokeberries, blackberries, wild grapes and
Unfortunately, Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Count Census data show
that populations of these birds are in decline. Since these birds are cavity
nesters, they must compete with Starlings and Flickers and other cavity
nesters for breeding sites. Proper placement of well designed nest boxes
would likely help these birds to recover to previous population levels as
long as Starlings and Flickers do not take them over.
Baicich, P. J. & C. J. O. Harrison. 1997. A guide to the nests, eggs and
nestlings of North American birds, 2nd ed. Academic Press, Boston, MA.
Gill, F. B. 1995. Ornithology, 2nd ed. W. H. Freeman & Co., New York.
Peterson, R. T. 2002. Birds of eastern and central North America, 5th
Edition. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, MA.
Proctor, N. S. & P. J. Lynch. 1993. Manual of ornithology. Avian
structure an function. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT.
Pyle, P. 2001. Identification guide to North American Birds. Part 1.
Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, CA.
Ridgely, R. S. & P. J. Greenfield. The birds of Ecuador. Field Guide.
Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Stiles, F. G., A. F. Skutch and D. Gardner. A guide to the birds of Costa
Rica. Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY.
Stokes, D & L. Stokes. Stokes Field Guide to Birds. Eastern region.
Little, Brown and Co., Boston, MA.
Terres, J. K. 1995. The Audubon encyclopedia of North American birds.
Wings Books, Avenel, NJ.
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