A group of birds that is quite common in our county, but not as well known to most people such as other birds like robins, woodpeckers, and sparrows, are the flycatchers. Historical records indicated that there were 12 species in Chautauqua County at the turn of the 20th century, however, over recent times, through research and biological analysis, it was determined that two of the species were actually the same bird, resulting in the number that we know today in our county at 11. In this first part of this two-week topic, I will discuss the following: Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Wood Pewee, Great-crested Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher and the Olive-sided Flycatcher.
Two of the more common members of this group that most local residents are familiar with are the Eastern Phoebe and the Eastern Kingbird. The Eastern Phoebe is one of the earliest migrants in spring, often arriving when there are still patches of snow on the ground. The majority of these birds usually arrives no earlier than mid-March and is gone from our county by late October. There is one record of an Eastern Phoebe a few years ago as being sighted in the fourth week of December, but that may have been an injured or ill bird.
The Eastern Kingbird, on the other hand, arrives about the fourth week of April and starts its southward migration by mid-September. It is an open country breeder preferring farmland, and does not seem to prefer heavily urbanized areas. During the last New York state breeding bird survey, it was recorded in 90 percent of our states breeding bird blocks, verifying the fact that it has become a very common member of this group over the years. Another commonly sighted member of this group in our county is the larger Great-crested Flycatcher, well known for its "whreep" call. This bird arrives about the end of April and departs around the end of September. The Great-crested favors farmlands and appears to be increasing in numbers. Future breeding bird surveys will assist in determining whether that information is accurate. Another flycatcher that most residents are aware of is the Eastern Wood Pewee, a bird familiar to many of us because it calls its name. It appears about the last week of April and leaves around the middle of October.
The Willow Flycatcher is observed from the second week of May to the fourth week of August. The last member of this group to discuss this week is the Olive-sided Flycatcher. This is an uncommon visitor to our county that appears in two short periods of the year, from mid-May to the first week of June, and the second period occurring from the second to the fourth week of August. There was a single sighting years ago at the end of September. Photos of each of these birds are attached.
As a reminder to you, I am always interested in article topics, photographs (with name of plant or animal on back along with name of sender), to be sent by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by U.S.Mail to Dick Miga 38 Elm St. Fredonia, N.Y. 14063 .