Photographing The Collared Flycatcher

Eschenbach binoculars share some tips on photographing the collared flycatcher.

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collared flycatcher

The collared flycatcher comes to us from Africa every summer and turns orchards into great air shows.



Collared flycatchers are about 13cm long, thus smaller than sparrows. Their body is compact and merges into a thin, ranging tail. As in many other species, males’ plumage is more striking during breeding. It is coloured black and white in a strong, clear-drawn pattern. Throat, chest and abdomen are completely white, the colour runs as a broad collar to the black back, which may be interrupted only by a distinct white wing band. Over the short, black bill stands a white forehead spot in the otherwise black face. The eyes are relatively large and black grey. The female lacks the forehead spot and the wings have darker bands on them. The eyes have got a bright eyelid.


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The collared flycatchers’ distribution area extends from Gotland and Sweden via Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Russia, Latvia to Ukraine and western France. In Germany, he can be pictured only in the south, in regions such as Remstal, Wieslauftal and Stromberg. The little bird is a long-distance migrant. Every year in August and September he overcomes several thousand kilometres to get to his wintering grounds in Africa. He is hardly noticed by laymen, since he makes his noiseless flight at night. He comes back in May to its breeding areas, which most of the time remain the same his whole life. Collared flycatchers feel well in deciduous forests, gardens and parks. But they’ve got a preference for traditional orchards, where they can be easily observed (especially in Baden-Württemberg).


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Photographing tips

Due to their late arrival in May, Collared flycatchers have far less time for nesting and breeding than the other species. Males usually arrive a few days before the females, looking for a nesting site. Then, they sing loud on the selected spot to guide their partners. The females line the nest cavity with dry grass stalks immediately after their arrival. The eggs are incubated in under two weeks. The weather during the 20 days after the hatch is crucial: when it is dry and warm, the chicks neither freeze nor get hungry. In cold rainy summers, it may happen quickly that the little Collared flycatchers don’t survive.

Shooting pictures of the Collared flycatcher on a warm summer day in an orchard or in the forest is a great experience. The nimble birds take off for acrobatic flights to capture insects. These are their main food, but Collared flycatchers can also stay on the ground to eat larvae or spiders and on the trees to feed on berries.


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Eschenbach also shared some tips on photographing the red-footed falcon recently. 

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