There was a bit of excitement here at Bumblebee a couple of nights ago. I thought we had finally attracted some purple martins.

I was outside with the little dogs and was watching the bluebirds who have moved into the purple martin gourds. They have been there all summer, having babies and using the long arms of the gourd system as a perch to look for juicy bugs. But some of the “bluebirds” were exhibiting some very un-bluebird like behavior. They perched and then flew off to grab bugs in mid-air and then returned to the perch to chow down.

Well, naturally I thought they were purple martins. I was so excited my hands were shaking as I changed my camera lens to the monster long-lens. I snapped shots and sent them off to a couple of friends, including Ruthie, announcing, “I have purple martins!!!”

Well, don’t you love the innernets? Within three or four minutes one friend had called and the other emailed to gently inform me that I didn’t have purple martins at all.

I have Great Crested Flycatchers.

Well, naturally I was disappointed. After having invested a wagonload of money in the gourd system, charmed a handyman into installing the pole in my Maryland hardpan clay and gotten up for many, many mornings before dawn to play them the CD of purple martin dawn song on my boom box, I still didn’t have purple martins.

But my friends assured me that a Great Crested Flycatcher is indeed a very special and interesting bird. But then, I already knew the interesting part. He surely captured my interest!

Now, I am watching as the bluebirds and flycatchers share their perch. They seem companionable enough and both are special birds that I’m happy to have in my yard. Even if they aren’t purple martins.

There is always next year.


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  • Kim says:

    There is always next year! Good luck attracting Martins, maybe you’ll get some. I’d love to have the Flycatcher here, or even the bluebirds. When we moved to a more wooded spot, we lost the bluebirds but we gained Pileated Woodpeckers. I’m not sure that’s a fair trade, but it will have to do. Thanks for sharing your Flycatcher.

  • My in-laws had purple martins at the lake house. They loved them, but I’ve got to be honest, the silly things were the noisiest birds I’d ever heard. I just don’t have the ear for them I guess.

    I love my bluebirds and the scissor tail flycatchers, Oklahoma’s state bird.~~Dee

  • Anna says:

    I am growing gourds right now and hope to get my houses up next year. I can’t believe all the work you went to and then don’t have them. Boo hiss. Seeing what Dee said, I’ll sure make sure they are away from the house a good bit.

  • Kylee says:

    Robin, I’d be thrilled with the flycatcher! I hope you get some Martins sometime, though.

  • Seriously, you played a CD on your boom box outside in the early morning to attract purple martins? What we will do to attract the right kinds of birds to our gardens, or at least what we think are the right kinds of birds.

  • Gail says:

    Well if I had your itching biting bug problem (I do) I would do what it takes to get mosquito eating birds in my yard! It’s a flycatcher and cute, but more importantly, does he eat mosquitoes?

  • Rhonda says:

    I’ve tagged you on my blog…can you give us 6 things about yourself?

  • Margaret says:

    Have enjoyed 62 kinds of birds here in the “yard” but never purple martins. Tanagers, every manner of warbler, indigo buntings, even irruptive winter finches such as Pine Grosbeak. But no martins. Not sure about your nice flycatcher, either…have had a couple of flycatcher/peewee species consistently, but the very long tail seems like one I don’t have.

  • Kenny Point says:

    Nothing against the flycatcher but that’s a disappointment; purple martins are so cool and great to have around, they remind me of dolphins in many ways. A friend in Upper Marlboro, MD used to have a colony that spent every summer there and raised their babies right in his suburban back yard. For some reason they didn’t return a couple summers ago, I’ll have to find out if they ever did come back again. Good luck enticing a group of Martins to settle in.

  • Barbee' says:

    I think flycatchers are fun to watch. And, they seem to have a curiosity and boldness. One looked in my window right at me one time. He had large, round, pretty, and bright eyes. Cute!

  • Angie says:

    I just stumbled upon your blog and have been enjoying reading it very much! I too live in Maryland in the country and can relate to so much of what you write about!

  • Roxanne says:

    From everything I’ve seen, the picture of the bird posted here is not a Great Crested Flycatcher. Though it looks similar. Cresteds have yellow bellies and different shaped bills0 they can be distinguished by their calls. Google it for pics and for sounds to compare your birds to Great Cresteds.

    I think you have an Olive Sided Flycatcher
    see here all the flycatchers,27