The Forked-Tail Flycatcher

The world of aves contains an order called passeriformes, the largest of the 34 existing orders. The order has an unusual family known as the Tyrannidae and within that family, is a species called Muscivora Tyrannus, most cornmonly referred to as the Fork-tailed Flycatcher. The Forked-tail Flycatcher has a black cap with a yellow crown spot. Its underparts are white and its tail is black, forked and twice the length of its body.

Its nest is an elaborate hanging basket or cup preferably where colonial wasps or ants are nesting, presumably because of the protection from predators afforded by bites or stings of these neighbours. They lay one egg daily until the clutch is complete. The eggs are a white cream to buff with brown spots.

Bubba's new girlfriend gave him a Latin to English dictionary and he's convinced it's the key to a greater understanding of birdwatching. For instance, I would have guessed the Latin name Muscivora Tyrannus would have to do with its incredibly long forked tail or this varasious insectivorous birds appetite for flies but instead it's a description of its personality. Bubba looked it up and interpreted it as the tyrant intruder. A tyrant is defined as a cruel oppressive ruler or master.

I began to look closer at the bird in a different light and discovered its behavior true to its name. The Tyrant Flycatchers all defend exclusive territories and are highly aggressive towards intruders, even intruders like hawks that may be three times their size. My observation is that the forked-tail likes pastures in association with cattle. I suppose this makes a rich hunting ground for flying insects. Bubba and I watched one sitting on a fence post in Gallon Jug. It was gazing over the meadow where Barry Bowen keeps his prize bull 'Champ'. As it flew from post to post its tail seemed like a burden. Bubba's contention is that everything has a purpose and I was pondering why its tail length should be so exaggerated when it spied a small swarm of honey

bees. He flew into the swarm dragging his tail and suddenly spread and bowed it stopping his flight forward to begin almost a hover catching the bees in midair. The tail provides fantastic aerobatic maneuvering ability that assists in catching quick flying prey.

I hate that Bubba seems to be always right.

Birds of Ambergris Caye

This page, and all contents, are Copyright © 1996 Elbert Greer