Great Crested Flycatcher at Wilket Creek: May 13, 2022

If you walk in deep woods in summer, there are three bird species which often sing loudly, out of sight, in the tree tops.

Red-eyed Vireo

Red-eyed Vireo

Eastern Wood Pewee

Eastern Wood Pewee

and the Great Crested Flycatcher. Although we didn’t catch sight of one due to the leaf cover, we heard its “weep” call repeatedly.

Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher

When I think of this species, I am reminded of a trip I did with my grandfather, Dr. J. Murray Speirs, years ago to Northern Ontario in which I acted as his assistant for a series of breeding bird surveys. Some excited inhabitants of Nipigon, informed us that they had a rare bird sighting in woods some distance from their home. My grandfather, then in his 70’s, and I accompanied the people on a vigorous hike of about 5 kms through rough terrain until we reached the location of the rare bird. We appropriately “oohed and aahed” at the sight of a ….. Great Crested Flycatcher. My grandfather, ever the gentleman, expressed his gratitude, and later whispered to me “I’ve got one in my back yard”.

Some close-up botany:

White Cedar (Thuja occidentalis)
Goutweed (Aegopodium podagraria)
Linden (Tilia cordata)
Norway Maple (Acer platanoides)
Ground-ivy (Glechoma hederacea)
English Violet (Viola odorata)
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata)
Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)
Manitoba Maple (Acer negundo)
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)
Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale)
Bull Thistle (Cirsium vulgare)
Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica)

Today’s group:


what an amazing story……

Bear Quintuplet – once in a lifetime photos

Black bears typically have two cubs; rarely one or three. In 2007, in northern New Hampshire , a black bear sow gave birth to five healthy young. There were two or three reports of sows with as many as four cubs, but five was, and is, very extraordinary. The photographer learned of them shortly after they emerged from their den and set a goal of photographing all five cubs with their mom – no matter how much time and effort was involved. He knew the trail they followed on a fairly regular basis, usually shortly before dark. After spending nearly four hours a day, seven days a week, for more than six weeks, he had that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and photographed them. He used the equivalent of a very fast film speed on his digital camera. The print is properly focused and well exposed, with all six bears posing as if they were in a studio for a family portrait.

The photographer stayed in touch with other people who saw the bears during the summer and into the fall hunting season. All six bears continued to thrive. As time for hibernation approached, he found still more folks who had seen them, and everything remained OK. The photographer stayed away from the bears because he was concerned that they might become habituated to him, or to people in general, and treat them as approachable friends. This could easily become dangerous for both man and animal.

After Halloween, no further reports and could only hope the bears survived until they hibernated. This spring, just before the snow disappeared, all six bears came out of their den and wandered all over the same familiar territory they trekked in the spring of 2007.

The photographer saw them before mid-April and dreamed nightly of taking another family portrait, a highly improbable second once-in-a-lifetime photograph. On 25 April 2008, he achieved his dream.


In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.   – Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-82)

Miles Hearn

3 thoughts on “Great Crested Flycatcher at Wilket Creek: May 13, 2022


    Thanks Regrettably after your vivid description of the extraordinary bear family I could not see any of the photos you found so splendid. All my screen showed were blanks. Any chance you could resend those photos?
    Thanks, Louise

  2. Sophie

    I loved the Bear Quintuplet Story. Thank you for sharing. I found the pictures posted by Tom Sears when i googled ‘bear quintuplet’.

  3. Gloria James

    What a great story about the bear family and beautiful photos of them. I also liked the story about the great flycatcher. Your grandfather was really a good sport about the whole situation!


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