Flycatcher Days on the Farm

Flycatchers generally arrive on our Littleton, Colorado, farm in late April or early May.  Western wood pewees (summer residents) and willow flycatchers (migrants) are regular annual visitors and Say's phoebes turn up on occasion, as one did today; all are generally found alone.

Returning from Central or South America, the willow flycatchers often hunt on our property for a week or two before heading to mountain meadows for the summer.  Say's phoebes winter in the Desert Southwest and Mexico; erratic visitors to our farm, they soon head for open, dry shrublands of the lower foothills. Western wood pewees, having wintered in South America, are common summer residents across the Colorado Piedmont; though they often visit our farm, they are best observed in cottonwood groves along the South Platte River and its tributaries.

More risk averse than many avian insectivores, flycatchers time their migrations to insure that prey will be available.  Of course, nature does not offer guarantees and snow may fall along the Front Range as late as June; indeed, it was 38 degrees F this morning.  Nevertheless, the arrival of flycatchers is one of the more reliable signs that winter has finally retreated to higher terrain.