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Number of species: 72

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Great Crested Flycatcher - Myiarchus crinitus

Great Crested Flycatcher is relatively difficult to age by plumage, because the preformative molt occurs mostly on the wintering grounds, and resulting differences in feather shape and condition are subtle; ageing is often only reliable through skulling in fall. Sexes are also difficult to distinguish since plumage is identical, and even in the breeding season both develop a brood patch, and males have only a poorly developed cloacal protuberance.

Note that several Myiarchus flycatchers are quite similar in appearance; especially where ranges overlap, identification should be considered carefully.

Quick Tips:

  • Examine the primary coverts - on HY/SY birds they are relatively narrow and pointed (and paler than the greater coverts in spring), while on AHY/ASY birds they are broader and more rounded, and uniform in colour and wear with the greater coverts in all seasons.
  • Look at the secondaries - on HY and AHY/ASY birds they are uniform in colour and wear, but on SY birds there is often a molt limit, with up to three middle feathers slightly darker and fresher than the others.
  • In fall, consider the shape and colour of the rectrices - on HY birds they are somewhat pointed and quite rufous, while on AHY birds they are more rounded and slightly duller.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Unknown
Primary coverts and rectrices relatively narrow and somewhat pointed.
Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91648-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3577.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91648-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3575.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-1891-91648-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3576.jpg
Date: Jul 23
After hatch year / Unknown
Primary coverts and rectrices relatively broad and rounded.
Thumbnail - MG2-2231-66261-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3580.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2231-66261-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3578.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2231-66261-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3579.jpg
Date: Aug 15
After second year / Unknown
Primary coverts relatively broad and rounded, similar in colour to greater coverts and primaries; one or more freshly replaced tertials contrasting slightly with somewhat older and duller secondaries.
Thumbnail - MG2-2241-39470-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3574.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2241-39470-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3572.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2241-39470-Myiarchus_crinitus_AOU_7_52-3573.jpg
Date: Jun 2

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Juvenile / Unknown Similar to HY-U, with somewhat more rufous edging.
Second year / Unknown Primary coverts relatively narrow and pointed, and somewhat paler than greater coverts and primaries; molt limit among secondaries with up to three central feathers freshly replaced.
Number of species: 72

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