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!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Apopka?
Check out my Lake Apopka page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
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I’ve tried twice for Forky and dipped both times. Maybe Saturday will be the day!
I hope you get to see him!
Great catch. I need to get over there soon.
It’d be fun to see you in my neck of the woods! You’d really enjoy LAWD.
I was there today, July 5, and did not see the bird. There was another birder with me and we scoured the area north of the intersection of Lake Level Canal Rd and Interceptor Rd. Will check again this week. Bob Keener
I last saw him on July 2. You were looking in the right place. He tends to disappear at times. Good luck finding him!