species of the week #67 – collared flycatcher

Those who dislike mosquitoes and spiders should welcome the collared flycatcher as their best friend. The small bird prefers to eat insects, larvae, spiders and other small invertebrates, occasionally a berry. It especially likes to hunt from high trees, making great capers to catch its prey in flight.

Distribution status  Extinct in Rhineland-Palatinate
Remaining deposits Baden-Württemberg, Rhön
Last sighting in rhineland-palatinate 2017 near Neustadt/Weinstr.
Habitat Oak/beech forests with a high proportion of deadwood, meadow orchards
Threat Intensive forest management, insect mortality

The Collared Flycatcher is very site-faithful. If it likes it somewhere, it returns there every year in May, often for the rest of its life. Collared Flycatchers need it rather untidy, ideally there are many old trees with tree hollows. In an overgrown garden or park they also like to live in the neighborhood of people, as long as there are enough hiding places.

The large bird family of Flycatchers is outwardly exceedingly similar. The Pied Flycatcher is even considered a “twin species” of the Collared Flycatcher, because both species are more often confused even by experts. However, the Collared Flycatcher has a (namesake) completely white stripe below the head. It is also the smallest of all the flycatchers.
The Collared Flycatcher is a long-distance migrant. Every year in August and September it travels several thousand kilometers to reach its wintering area in Africa. However, it is hardly ever noticed by laymen, as it migrates at night. For the long flight from Africa, the Collared Flycatcher needs a lot of time. Therefore, it is often the last bird to arrive in Germany in spring. By then, the good breeding sites are often already occupied, especially if there are only a few of them. This is one of the reasons why the small bird is threatened with extinction. Another problem is insect mortality: due to the excessive use of insecticides, there is simply no longer enough food for the flycatchers.

In some places, improper conversion of hardwood forests to unsuitable spruce stands is also leading to loss of primary habitat. Another problem is the removal of cavity trees in agriculture and forestry.

Policy Need:
– Promotion of structurally rich riparian forests
– Promotion of biotope trees
– Ecologization of agriculture

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Image: By Podaliriy55 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=79346181