There’s a new celebrity in town. He traveled a great distance to be here, and he has birders flocking to come see him, but most people don’t even know he’s there. In fact, you can walk right by him and never even notice him. Meet the Fork-tailed Flycatcher, the latest rare bird to show up at Lake Apopka.
What’s so big a deal about a black and white bird? Well, he’s rare for Florida. Actually, he’s rare for the US, although vagrants are reported pretty regularly. Most Fork-tailed Flycatchers live in South America, with their breeding range extending from Argentina to Mexico. This one probably got a little lost on his migratory journey.
This bird is likely a juvenile bird, or an adult who’s having serious tail issues. See the the fork in his tail? It’s supposed to be longer. Imagine two long ribbons streaming from it – that’s what an adult bird’s tail looks like. Wikipedia lists this bird as having the largest tail-to-body ratio of all birds on the planet.
I’m aware of at least three Fork-tailed Flycatcher sightings in Florida this spring, probably due to the storms and heavy winds during migration season. This bird lucked out when he found Lake Apopka. It’s loaded with bugs right now, perfect for his fly-catching ways. See how he finds a tall perch and sits? He watches and waits and then whoosh! takes off to grab an insect in mid-air.
I’m not sure how long this bird will stick around, but he’s certainly welcome to stay as long as he likes. He’s visible from the sod fields at the end of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Look for the cars on the side of the road and the scopes pointed out into the field. He usually stays pretty far out. My close-up shots were from one morning, but ever other time I went, he was far away. Good luck to those chasing him!