|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|From my recent short holiday trip to Mexico |
Pitangus sulphuratus are most commonly found in wet woodland and savannah areas in the eastern region of North America, such as Texas and Louisiana. Also, many individuals are found in South America and Central Argentina (Whitfield 1984).
Great kiskadees are commonly found in open woodland, scrub, thickets, streamsides, groves, parks and towns. In the tropics, they avoid dense, unbroken forests for open habitats near water (Campbell et al 1985, Kaufmann 1996).
Other names that P. sulphuratus are known as are great kiskadees and derby flycatchers. Kiskadees can range from 21 to 26 cm in length. They are large birds with big heads. They are among the larger species in the diverse family of tyrant flycatchers. Their sides and crown of the head are bold and black, with a white line above the eye. Their chest area and under parts are bright yellow while their throat is white and their back and tail are brown. They are monomorphic, in that both males and females are quite similar. They are alike in being medium sized and having relatively long wings and short legs. Their color is similar also as the dark structures of the beak, face and back contrast with their yellow mid-section (Kaufmann 1996, Long 1981, Perrins et al 1985).
There is little known about P. sulphuratus reproductive cycles. The breeding season begins in late March. They tend to breed in trees, near rivers, lakes, streams, lakes or in woodland or swamp areas. The nest is placed in a crotch of a tree, 10 to 30 feet above ground. The nest is made out of a bulky mass of dry vines stems, grasses, plant fibers, weeds and spanish moss. The interior is developed with softer, finer material like wool and feathers. The female can have 2 to 5 eggs while the average is 4. The eggs are characterized as being smooth, glossy, creamy white, and dotted with dark brown specks. Then, both adult kiskadees assist in feeding their young. Development of offspring and the age at first flight are not known (Harrison 1978, Kaufmann 1996, Long 1981).
Kiskadees are one of the biggest and brightest species of the tyrant flycatchers. They are bold, noisy and active, especially when producing their loud call, "kis-ka-dee". Nicknamed after their call, they are found only in the new world, from Texas South to Argentina. They may actually be increasing in the tropics as they move into recently cut rain forest areas.
Great kiskadees move around mostly in pairs and live in monogamous pairs on aggressively defended nesting territories.
To avoid a feared predator, like a coral snake, they stay away from anything with its color pattern, even if it is a wooden rod painted with yellow and red rings. This instinctive response guides them, as it would be too dangerous to take the time to examine if something snake-like actually is a coral snake. (Ehrlich 1988, Kaufmann 1996, Short 1993, Whitfield 1984).
These birds are omnivorous; they can eat almost anything. Frequently, they perch above the water and then plunge into it, capturing fish, tadpoles and frogs. After about the third or the fourth dive, they need to dry out in the sun. Therefore, they will switch to catching beetles, wasps and other flying insects. However, when those resources are scarce during the winter, they feed on seeds, fruits and berries. They also eat lizards, mice and baby birds (Ehrlich 1988, Kaufmann 1996, Perrins et al 1985).
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