As the name suggests, flycatchers eat insects, often flying out from a perch to make a catch. In Illinois, motorists on county roads are most likely to see the eastern kingbird hunting from its perch on a roadside fence post. The pictures below give a sampling of both common and uncommon Illinois flycatchers. "The Birds of Illinois" lists 15 species of flycatchers that have made an appearance in our state. These pictures are intended to introduce you to the variety of birds seen here.

Great crested flycatchers are fairly large, but are hard to find because they are often hidden by foliage. They prefer forest interiors. Look for the yellow underside, and listen for their loud, trilling "thweeep" call. Eastern phoebes are among the first migrants to arrive in March. They eat mostly insects, but sometimes late winter weather can leave them without much to eat. They will eat berries and sometimes fish in a pinch. Eastern wood peewees sing all day, even when it is very hot. H. David Bohlen described their song as "pee-a-wee." They eat mostly insects are commonly spend the summer in Illinois.

The least flycatcher is small, but has a noticeable white eye ring. It can be found at the forest's edge as well as the interior. It is among the first flycatchers to arrive each spring. As its name implies, the western kingbird is not normally found in this part of the country. This bird, however, was photographed near its nest at a Springfield golf course. The eastern kingbird is easy to spot sitting on fences along Illinois roadways. They can be identified by the white band at the end of the tail.

Photographs by Chris Young and Dennis Oehmke
The Vermillion flycatcher (female left and male right) is the only flycatcher species in which the male and females differ significantly in color. It is widespread in the southwestern United States, but is only occasionally found in Illinois.

Return to Home Page