Bird Identification – Least Flycatcher – Chebec

It is not until he calls out his name, Chebec! Chebec! in clear and business-like tones from some tree-top that you could identify this fluffy flycatcher, scarcely more than five inches long, whose dusky coat and light vest offer no helpful markings. Not a single gay feather relieves his sombre suit. Isn’t this a queer, Quakerly taste for a bird that spends half his life in the tropics among gorgeously feathered friends? Even the plain vireos, as a family, wear finer clothes than the dusky flycatchers. You may know that the chebec is not one of those deliberate searchers of foliage by his sudden, murderous sallies in mid-air.

Abundant from Pennsylvania to Quebec, the least flycatchers are too inconspicuous to be much noticed. They haunt apple orchards chiefly at nesting time, fortunately for the crop, and at no season secrete themselves in shady woods as pewees do. A little chebec neighbour of mine used to dart through the spray from the hose that played on the lawn late every every afternoon during a drought, and sit on the tennis net to preen his wet feathers; but he nearly put out my eyes in his excitement and anger when I presumed on so much friendliness to peep into his nest.