Myiarchus crinitus

Status:  Common regular spring migrant and breeder east, locally common central, fairly common west. Common regular fall migrant east and central, rare west.

Documentation:  Specimen: UNSM ZM6363, 19 Jul 1901 Beatrice, Gage Co.

Taxonomy:  No subspecies are recognized (Pyle 1997).

Spring: Apr 20,21,22 <<<>>> summer (except west), May 9,10,11 <<<>>> summer (west)

Migrants are most numerous in the Missouri River Valley. Arrival is in late Apr, and peak migration mid-May.   There are earlier reports 9 Apr 2005 Sarpy Co, 12 Apr 1959 Gage Co, 14 Apr 1962 Hamilton Co, and 16 Apr 1977 Douglas Co. It arrives later in the Panhandle, in mid-May, although there are earlier reports 1 May 1959 Scotts Bluff Co, and in Keith Co 6 May 2019, and Lincoln Co 2 May 2012, 3 May 2014, 5 May 2008. There are recent records at Crescent Lake NWR, Garden Co 10 Jun 2009 and 28 May-3 Jun 2010, all possibly migrants.

  • High counts:  41 at Indian Cave SP, Nemaha and Richardson Cos 27 May 2002, 39 in Sarpy Co 11 May 1996 and 29 in Sarpy Co 13 May 1995.

Summer: Bruner et al (1904) considered Great Crested Flycatcher a common summer resident only along the Missouri River and its larger tributaries in the east; Rapp et al (1958) noted that it occurred as far west as Keith and Logan Cos. The breeding range expanded westward during the 20th Century along river valleys as riparian woodlands have spread westward and matured.  The expansion has continued into the 21st Century. Currently Great Crested Flycatcher occurs statewide, with highest densities in the east, and lowest numbers in the west, where it is limited to extensive wooded riparian areas on the Pine Ridge, along the Niobrara River Valley, Loup drainage west to Thomas Co, South Platte River Valley, and Republican River Valley.

It is common in the Niobrara River Valley west to at least eastern Cherry Co (Brogie and Mossman 1983), occurring only in small numbers further west. One of few records west of Nenzel along the Niobrara River was a male in breeding condition collected 5 Jul 1964 south of Rushville, Sheridan Co (Short 1965); another was near Rushville 3 Jun 2014, and two were at Smith Lake WMA, Sheridan Co 14 Jun 2016.

Great Crested Flycatcher is fairly common on the Pine Ridge; it was considered a rare migrant and local summer resident in the northwest as recently as the early 1980s (Rosche 1982), where it had occurred as a migrant since 10 May 1953, and in summer since 18 Jun 1961.

While it occurs regularly in the eastern Loup River drainage, in recent years it has become more common in the rivers of the western parts of the drainage. Indeed, at NNF in Thomas Co, it was by the 1990s a “common summer resident” (Bray 1994). Recent reports are from extreme northeast Lincoln Co 7 Jun 2013 and 5 Jun 2011 and western Custer Co 5 Jun 2016, 30 Jun 2012, and 17 Jul 2012.

This species occurs regularly in the North Platte River Valley west at least to Keith Co. There are only about 10 records for Wyoming (Faulkner 2010) and so reports west of Keith Co in or near the North Platte River Valley are noteworthy. Since 2000 there have been only these:  5 Jun 2009 Scotts Bluff Co, 10-11 Jun 2005 Wind Springs Ranch, Sioux Co, 14 Jun 2005 Scotts Bluff Co, 15-28 Jun 2002 and 28 Jun 2002 Morrill Co, 13 Jun 2009 Dawes Co, 27 Jun 2009 Morrill Co, 2 Jul 2014 Scotts Bluff NM, Scotts Bluff Co, 4 Jul 2009 two along the White River, Sioux Co, and 9 Jul 2014 Scottsbluff, Scotts Bluff Co.

It summers along the South Platte River Valley to Colorado, where it was first reported in the 1970s and bred in the late 1980s (Andrews and Righter 1992), and throughout the Republican River Valley. Numbers decline westward along the Republican, but there are several reports west to Dundy Co.

  • Breeding Phenology:
    Nest Building: 23-26 May
    Nestlings: 3 Jun-28 Jul
    Fledglings: 5-21 Jul
  • One photographed carrying what appeared to be nest material in Hall Co 3 Jul 2019 ( was of interest; although generally not double-brooded, egg-laying can be as late as 10 Jul in Canada (Miller and Lanyon 2014).

Fall:  summer <<<>>> Oct 6,8,9,  Summer <<<>>> Sep 13,14,15 (west)

Migrants begin southward movement by the end of Aug, most departing by the end of Sep, and the last reports are in early Oct; there is a later report 22 Oct 1985 Lancaster Co.  Departure in the Panhandle is over by early to mid-Sep, with a later date 9 Oct (Rosche 1982).

Even though it breeds in the Pine Ridge, there are only 15 fall reports in the Panhandle away from breeding areas; migrants tend to move southeastward in fall to northeastern Mexico (Miller and Lanyon 2020).

  • High counts:  7 at Indian Cave SP 13 Sep 2003 and 6 at Hormel Park, Dodge Co 21 Jul 2010.


NNF: Nebraska National Forest
NM: National Monument
SP: State Park
UNSM: University of Nebraska State Museum
WMA: Wildlife Management Area (State)


Photograph (top) of a Great Crested Flycatcher at Fontenelle Forest, Sarpy Co 20 May 2012 by Phil Swanson.

Literature Cited

Andrews, R., and R. Righter. 1992. Colorado birds.  Denver Museum of Natural History, Denver, Colorado, USA.

Bray, T.E. 1994. Habitat utilization by birds in a man-made forest in the Nebraska Sandhills. Master’s thesis, University of Nebraska-Omaha, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Brogie, M.A., and M.J. Mossman. 1983. Spring and summer birds of the Niobrara Valley Preserve, Nebraska: An annotated checklist. NBR 51: 44-51.

Bruner, L., R.H. Wolcott, and M.H. Swenk. 1904. A preliminary review of the birds of Nebraska, with synopses. Klopp and Bartlett, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.

Faulkner, D.W. 2010. Birds of Wyoming. Roberts and Company, Greenwood Village, Colorado, USA.

Miller, K.E. and W.E. Lanyon. 2020. Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.

Pyle, P. 1997. Identification Guide to North American Birds. Part I, Columbidae to Ploceidae. Slate Creek Press, Bolinas, California, USA.

Rapp, W.F. Jr., J.L.C. Rapp, H.E. Baumgarten, and R.A. Moser. 1958. Revised checklist of Nebraska birds. Occasional Papers 5, Nebraska Ornithologists’ Union, Crete, Nebraska, USA.

Rosche, R.C. 1982. Birds of northwestern Nebraska and southwestern South Dakota, an annotated checklist. Cottonwood Press, Crawford, Nebraska, USA.

Short, L.L., Jr. 1965. Bird records from northern Nebraska during the breeding season. NBR 33: 2-5.

Recommended Citation

Silcock, W.R., and J.G. Jorgensen. 2020.  Great Crested Flycatcher (Myiarchus crinitus). In Birds of Nebraska — Online.

Birds of Nebraska – Online

Updated 28 Aug 2020