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Monday, November 20, 2006

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Head shot, (cropped from larger image)

Today we went to see the Fork-tailed Flycatcher that was discovered on Sat. on the NH coast. This elegant bird breeds in Central America and South America but there are more than 100 records of it occurring as a vagrant in North America, primarily along the Gulf and East Coast with some of the heaviest concentrations between Delaware and southern Maine.

There are four subspecies, two that occur in North America; the physical differences between them are subtle and involve the shape of the tips of the outer primaries.* The most widespread vagrant subspecies and the one being seen in NH is Tyranus savana savana; the other subspecies (believed to occur in Texas) is T.s. monachus.

This bird has been hanging out at Odiorne State Park in Rye, NH frequenting the vegetation at the edge of the grassy areas past the parking lot. Cooperative and easy to see, it eats insects or some of the many berries there, such as bittersweet.

The tail is sooo long, makes us wonder what its functions is. Perhaps it helps it manuever during its amazing acrobatic flight, as some of my photos show. We had such a good time just watching this beautiful bird and socializing with the many birders who came to see it.

This is a vagarant that can show up just about anywhere in the U. S., so be on the lookout.

Photos © Lillian Stokes, 2006

* For further information see:
Lockwood, M. W. 1999. Possible anywhere Fork-tailed Flycatcher, Birding 31: 126-139.


Mike McDowell said...

Hey Lillian,

Excellent photos!


Kay at Don't Mess With Taxes said...

Wow! That's it. Just WOW!

Lillian and Don Stokes said...

Thanks, Kay. This was one of the easiest to find and most cooperative to photograph, rarities I have ever seen. It is so incredibly rewarding to me when I get nice photos like that.

Patrick Belardo said...

Nice shots! I got to see one in PA this year. Unfortunately, it had worn or broken tail feathers.

Katie said...

Hi! I discovered your blog while researching the English name of the tijereta, a bird I saw while in Argentina (and the beautiful creature featured in this post!). Your photos are great! Thanks for sharing. :)