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The Great Crested Flycatcher is the only flycatcher in the Eastern United States that builds its nest in cavities.
An old woodpecker hole, a natural cavity or a manmade nest box is selected as the home, and it nearly always is decorated with a shed of snakeskin. In fact some call this bird the “Snakeskin Bird.”
It builds that nest in a bulky mass of twigs, leaves, hair, feathers, bark fibers, rope and other trash, constructed anywhere from 3 to 75 feet above the ground.
These birds winter in locations ranging from South Texas and South Florida to Central and South America and begin arriving form their wintering grounds around mid-April, when they start searching for a home and a mate.
Their haunts are always in a hardwood forest, and they absolutely love to eat grasshoppers, crickets and katydids.
The male and female form a handsome couple, sporting yellow bellies along with rufous-highlighted wings and tails, gray breasts and olive backs.
This 8.75-inch-long bird, with a 13-inch wingspan generally lays four to eight eggs.
As far as we know, they raise one brood from mid-May until mid-June, and then they will head back South around the end of September.
Believe it not, one of the main predators of this and other tree-nesting forest birds is none other than our state mammal, the Eastern Gray Squirrel.
These squirrels constantly are climbing in the trees, particularly during the spring and summer nesting season, robbing nests and eating both eggs and young.
You can stay active in your search for the Great Crested Flycatcher from now until mid-September in the Great Outdoors.
To read more columns about birds by Horace Brown, visit www.SentinelNews.com/recreation.