First Piratic Flycatcher of the year

Piratic Flycatcher (Legatus leucophaius); photo by John Beer

The Piratic Flycatcher begins returning to Costa Rica from South America in late January. It is one of very few so-called ‘southern migrants’. The first individual in our garden for 2019 arrived today, calling loudly. The photograph above does not show a bird with nesting material in its bill because this species does not build a nest. Instead, like the famous pirates of the Caribbean (Captain Morgan plundered Costa Rica), the Piratic Flycatcher harasses and then evicts other birds, usually also flycatchers, from their recently completed nests and then settles in to raise its family. Identification is not much of a problem, although it does superficially resemble the much larger Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher (Myiodynastes luteiventris).

The Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher is a passage migrant and will not reappear here in Turrialba until late February; photo taken in Aquiares by John Beer

The broad malar stripe, heavy bill and cinnamon rump and tail preclude confusion with the Piratic Flycatcher but not with the very similar Streaked Flycatcher (Myiodynastes maculatus). The latter, however, is a Pacific Coast resident that does not occur in our region.

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