In praise of Tyrants (flycatchers, that is)…

 

WstKngBrdMay192017

Western Kingbird -Victoria, Canada

After a month or so of searching the shrubbery for warblers and adding to my extensive collection of photos of blurred foliage and bare branches, the visit of a rare Western Kingbird to our area is a welcome relief. I had to search for it but when I found the bird, it wasn’t hiding. I really do appreciate flycatchers for not hiding. It’s a selling point. I’d tell them so if I could. Mind you, after the warblers, I’d say that about any bird that favoured an unobstructed perch and sat still for a picture. Getting a half decent shot of the Western sent me back into my files looking for other shots of flycatchers-phoebes, peewees, and kingbirds, tyrants all. A varied family too, with around 400 members around the world, of which these are just a few…

EastKingbirdjuly

Eastern Kingbird – Ontario, Canada

VermlFlYno22016a

Vermilion Flycatcher – Texas

KiskaDec42015

Great Kiskadee – Mexico

SaysphoebeJan172015

Say’s Phoebe – Arizona

ScissflyNov42016

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher – Texas

Flycatchers

 

tropkingoct152014x2

Tropical Kingbird

It’s mid-November in British Columbia but I’m out looking for a Tropical Kingbird. Yes –  tropical!  I think I’ve mentioned these wayward birds before. A few of them seem to show up somewhere on the coast each winter. It’s their brain wiring apparently – a misread of the magnetosphere by mostly young birds.

The Kingbird belongs to the Tyrant flycatcher clan, a family that includes some spectacular and engaging species. And they are tyrants in terms of attitude. Fierce little birds when they need to be, and very protective, driving away even the largest raptors.

vrmlionflyno22016

Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatchers are favourites of mine. I think they look more tropical than the Kingbirds. Easy to imagine these small, bright red birds flitting through a jungle canopy somewhere far to the south, maybe near a squad of Toucans. Like many flycatchers, they don’t try to hide, so photographing them is relatively easy. The same is true of Scissortail Flycatchers like the ones I saw recently in Texas. Extravagantly long tails and peach-coloured sides – beautiful!

scrrtailflyno42016

Scissortail Flycatcher