Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Kiskadee

A pair of Great Kiskadees searching for food in a stream; Cancun, Mx; 12/19/10.
The Great Kiskadee (a member of the tyrannid flycatcher family) was the first bird I saw in Mexico that I would consider exotic or tropical. I was excited to something that is very different than the usual Northern Illinois birds. Except for very south Texas along the Rio Grande River, it is seldom seen in the U.S., Its range is common in tropical lowlands of Central and South America, preferring habitats of rivers, streams, and lakes bordered with dense vegetation. It also is found in open country and parks, and beacuse it has a very social nature it is extending both north and south of its usual range. Indeed, where I saw it first was on the grounds of the resort we were staying, and one of the groundkeepers said they like to eat the fish in the ponds (Above).
A Great Kiskadee drinking from a man-made stream on the grounds of a Cancun resort; 12/19/10.

It's rather large for a flycatcher and often exhibits behavior more in tune with a kingfisher or a jay. Like all good flycatchers, it captures its share of flying insects while in flight, but it is forages for broader food items such as fish, tadpoles, a wide variety of fruits, and even is known to visit backyard feeding stations to eat bananas, cooked rice, and dog food. Its larger bill than most flycatchers enables it to handle these larger food items.
The Great Kiskadee has a white head with a black cap and eye-line. It sports a yellow patch in the middle of its black cap but is often concealed; however, I was able to get a few photographs with it visible (Below top). Its wings and tail are a chestnut-brown contrasting brilliantly with its white throat and bright yellow belly and underparts that are very noticeable while in flight (Below bottom).

In this Photograph, you can see the yellow patch on the black crown of this great Kiskadee, Cancun, Mx; 12/19/10.

A Great Kiskadee along the banks of a river in Puerto Morelos, Mx; 12/24/10.
It was once known as Derby Flycatcher, in honor of the Earl of Derby, but has been renamed to Kiskadee to mimic the sound  it utters "Kiss - ka - dee" or as some people say "Chris -to - fer."  As I was researching birds common to Mexico, I found that many have a black mask. I read that this may help reduce the intense bright glare of the tropical sun and aid in seeing and capturing its prey.
Interestingly, a group of Kiskadees are collectively known as a "shower" of Kiskadees.

iguana of the day, Isla Mujeres, Mx; 12/20/10.

1 comment:

tchesney said...

What a unusual beauty...I love the variety of colors the Kiskadee possesses! Another bird I have never heard of...I am loving your blog! Now I can blame you for begging my husband to go to Mexico lol