Showdown at Cove Island


Northern Mockingbird spots preening Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary

The Fork-tailed Flycatcher showed up last Wednesday November 17, 2010 at 7:30am in Cove Island Wildlife Sanctuary, Stamford, Connecticut and birders from all over have been streaming in to visit with this rare vagrant from South and Central America. As it turns out, humans were not the only ones interested in the fancy flycatcher with the pretty long tail and contrasting black and gray and white coloration. Some of the locals were not as thrilled to see the rare visitor as the numerous visiting birders continue to be.

Northern Mockingbirds, themselves relative newcomers to Connecticut, now consider Cove Island Sanctuary their home as it provides food and cover enough to support several pairs for most of the year. However, if you look at the world and Cove Island Sanctuary in particular, from the Mockingbirds point of view, this interloper from out of the country with all the fancy feathers is like a relative from out of state who stays too long and is eating everything in the pantry. All in all, I’m sure that the flycatcher would rather be in South American than eating Crab apples and grasshoppers with pushy Northern Mockingbirds as neighbors.

So this afternoon we observed the mockingbird deliberately and with apparent aggressive intentions approach the flycatcher that was using a favorite high perch in a crab apple tree to hawk for late fall grasshoppers. The accompanying photo sequence shows the key points of one interaction. The mocking bird makes its approach and then with a stunning burst of speed lunges at the flycatcher that was minding it’s own business. The flycatcher takes off, and as it is no slouch in the air, makes it’s own aggressive counter move to chase off the mockingbird. The interaction was over in seconds. Of note is the distinctive yellow head patch visible for split second on the flycatcher as it turns the tables on the mockingbird. The undaunted flycatcher returned to the high perch and turned it’s back on the departing mockingbird.

 

Northern Mockingbird approaches Fork-tailed Flycatcher perched in Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary

Northern Mockingbird aggressively approaches Fork-tailed Flycatcher perched in Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary.

 

Northern Mockingbird swoops aggressively and startles Fork-tailed Flycatcher that was perched in Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary.

Northern Mockingbird continues aggressive moves and startled Fork-tailed Flycatcher regains control in Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher turns tables and moves aggressively (showing yellow crest) to chase Northern Mockingbird above the Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher continues to chase Northern Mockingbird above the Crab Apple Tree, Cove Island Sanctuary

Fork-tailed Flycatcher returns to perch in the Crab Apple Tree while Northern Mockingbird comes around for another pass, Cove Island Sanctuary

Fork-tailed Flycatcher perches in the Crab Apple Tree while Northern Mockingbird continues another aggressive pass, Cove Island Sanctuary

Fork-tailed Flycatcher perches in the Crab Apple Tree with it’s back to the departing Northern Mockingbird, Cove Island Sanctuary

About Kymry

Welcome to the Kymry Blog. In this blog we will be showcasing photography by several different photographers with a Look in time from 1925 to the present. Share some Business & Technology of Photography. Including adventures in the birding world and many other interesting insights and observations along the way.
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5 Responses to Showdown at Cove Island

  1. Deanne Nezas says:

    Great shots! Towny beautifully captured an interesting exchange.
    Best-
    Deanne

  2. Sarah says:

    These photos are amazing, and what a wonderful story to go with them. I wish I could have been there in person, but you have captured the moment! Thank you.

  3. Charlie says:

    Nice sequence of photos. It is also the first time that I have seen the yellow in the crown of the Fork-tailed Flycatcher.

  4. Ralph Amodei says:

    Mardi, These photos by Townsend are fantastic! I saw the Fork-Tailed on Sat 11/20. There was a couple on the bird with a Swarovski it was quite the scope.. I viewed through someone elses that was not as good. My point being I saw that yellow crest on its head while he/she was perched! Now your photos have comfirmed it. It does have a yellow crest on its head!!

    • Thanks Ralph. The yellow crest can be seen now and then if your lucky when the bird is excited, agitated or showing off its beautiful self around a female. I myself own a Leica APO Televid 77mm angled scope with a 32X wide angle eyepiece and just love it. Sharp as a tack from the center of the eyepiece to the very edges of the glass. When others have viewed through mine the only word to describe it is WOW! check out my wirte up on scopes. https://kymry.wordpress.com/birdwatching/
      Glad you were able to see this beautiful bird.

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