Friday, November 2, 2012

Scissor-tailed Flycatcher

We had a rare and unexpected visitor in Wisconsin this week.  This Scissor-tailed Flycatcher caused lots of excitement in the birding community. The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher is common to Oklahoma and the states bordering it.  He’s a rarity in Wisconsin, but roundly welcomed when visiting.

The word went out on the Wisbirdn network of his presence in Cedarburg. There, on the first day, fifty-five flycatcher fans followed his every move along Pioneer Road. The second day the crowd was smaller as news spread that he’d departed over the barn at noon, so ending the excitement.  

The departure disappointed many out-state birders who were coming here to see him, but hadn’t yet arrived. The gracious landowner even agreed to stop plowing his nearby field to accommodate the birders a little longer. 

Flycatchers hunt by hawking flies out of the air.  Insects are scarce at Halloween, so this male seemed to be surviving on invertebrates and berries tossed up by passing cars on Highway C.  

Timing aerial acrobatics between moving cars is a risky business for a bird, so he had to be quick.

He waited for the traffic to clear momentarily and then flew out, grabbing tasty morsels off the road…darting back…across the white-line edge…remaining only inches off the pavement…avoiding certain death.  He appeared to be more brave than bright, but no harm came to him and he was clearly finding enough food.

I can’t say why he was here in Wisconsin, other than some birds might be more adventurous than others. 

Food was plentiful for him here and the recent days of fair weather may have enticed him to come farther north than normal.   

If he understands winter, he’ll need to leave soon for Central America…if he intends to be around next year.  

He is a snowbird in the travelling sense of the word…more so than most.  He can’t survive here.  I’m sure he knows that.  

He’s a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher on the far side of Oklahoma who may be pushing his luck.