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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12 Responses to “The Case of the Mistaken Bird Identity or How I Met the Great Crested Flycatcher”

  1. 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.

  2. Dee/reddirtramblings Says:

    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

  3. 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.

  4. Kylee Says:

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

  5. Carol, May Dreams Gardens Says:

    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.

  6. 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?

  7. Rhonda Says:

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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!

  11. 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!

  12. 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

Garden and food writer Robin Ripley is co-author of Grocery Gardening. Her new book, Wisdom for Home Preservers, is now available from Taunton Press. Bumblebee is about her life in rural Maryland, her garden, cooking, dogs and pet chickens. She also blogs about food and chickens at Eggs & Chickens. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Thank you for visiting.


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