Flycatcher, the common name of many species of birds that capture flies and other insects in flight. Unlike birds that actively hunt their prey, flycatchers pick a prominent perch, remain almost motionless, and wait for their prey to come within range. Then the flycatcher darts out, snaps up the insect, and returns to its perch to wait for its next victim.
Stiff bristles point forward from the base of the bird's wide beak. These make it hard for an insect to escape the flycatcher's attack. The enormous numbers of harmful insects they kill make flycatchers of great value to fruit growers and farmers.The Acadian flycatcher has olive plumage that is darker on the wings and tail.
Flycatchers are divided into two great families, one native to the Old World, the other to the New. The New World flycatchers include 365 or more species. Most of them spend their lives in the American tropics, but more than 40 species nest in the United States and Canada during the summer. Kingbirds, pewees, and phoebes belong to the flycatcher family.
The scissor-tailed flycatcher is common in the chaparral country of the Southwest. It grows to 15 inches (38 cm) in length, including the 10-inch (25-cm) deeply forked tail it opens and closes in flight. It is the state bird of Oklahoma.
The vermilion flycatcher, which is slightly larger than the least flycatcher, is found from Utah, Arizona, and California south to Argentina.
The Western flycatcher is about the same size as the vermilion flycatcher. It ranges from southern Alaska south to Mexico, and east to the Black Hills of South Dakota. Its nest of moss is lined with bark.
The great crested flycatcher, of eastern North America, feeds from the tops of tall trees. It grows to about nine inches (23 cm) in length. It usually lines its nest with a piece of shed snakeskin.
Old World flycatchers make up the family Muscicapidae; New World, Tyrannidae. The least flycatcher is Empidonax minimus; scissor-tailed, Tyrannus forficata; vermilion, Pyrocephalus rubinus; Western, Empidonax difficilus; great crested, Myiarchus crinitus.