This morning the #ABArare Twitter feed is full of news of a piratic flycatcher at Rattlesnake Springs in Eddy, New Mexico. I usually don't follow up on rare birds that far away but the name of the bird intrigued me.
Native from central Mexico to northern Argentina the piratic flycatcher is a small bird, 5.75" long, that eats insects and fruit. Those on the edge of their range migrate toward the center. The bird in New Mexico went too far or perhaps in the wrong direction.
And he's a pirate?
Yes. He steals the nests of other birds.
Though smaller than a sparrow piratic flycatchers steal the domed nests of birds as big as crows! Those of crested oropendolas, for instance.
They don't attack the nest owners. Instead they keep showing up and vocalizing and being so totally annoying that the rightful owners abandon their nest even if they've laid eggs in it. When persistence pays off, the pirates throw out the abandoned eggs and the female lays her own.
These birds even look like pirates. They wear the pirates' mask.
(photo by Dominic Sherony from Wikimedia Commons. Click on the image to see the original)