Fall migration always has some surprises in store. One of the most delightful vagrants this fall was a Fork-tailed Flycatcher. This species normally occurs from Mexico all the way south to Argentina. A few vagrants occur along the eastern seaboard every year, usually between September and November.
The Maine bird was found at Gilsland Farm in Falmouth on September 16 by a local birder, Angus King. The electronic word got out and dozens of birders got to see the impressive bird. Alas, it was last seen on September 19.
Fork-tailed Flycatchers are white underneath with a gray back and a bold, black cap. The hallmark of the species is the fantastic tail. The outer tail feathers are ridiculously elongated. In flight, the tail feathers spread to make the distinctive fork. The tail of a Fork-tailed Flycatcher is like the tail of a Barn Swallow on steroids! Relative to body size, the tail of a Fork-tailed Flycatcher is the longest of any bird, two to three times the body length. Females and young birds have less ostentatious forked tails.