LA SAGRA’S FLYCATCHER: A SMALL TYRANT ON ABACO


LA SAGRA’S FLYCATCHER: A SMALL TYRANT ON ABACO

LA SAGRA’S FLYCATCHER Myiarchus sagrae is a non-migratory bird quite frequently seen in the Abaco pine forest and scrubland. It  is resident throughout the year on Abaco, as elsewhere within its distribution range (see map below) – also occasionally found as a vagrant in southern Florida. It is a ‘tyrant flycatcher’, a passerine species found throughout the Americas that includes kingbirds, pewees and phoebes.

The conservation status of this flycatcher is ‘Least Concern’

The LSF’s natural habitat is subtropical forest and rough scrubland. It builds its nest in a tree cavity or similar natural hole, and usually lays a clutch of two to four eggs. 

Adult La Sagra’s Flycatchers, unlike many avians, are very similar in appearance in both sexes.

As the name suggests, the species is primarily insectivore, fly-catching in the undergrowth and low scrub. However these birds also eat berries and seeds. Their call is a high pitched single or double noted sound described as ‘wink’. Here’s an example from the Bahamas by Paul Driver @ Xeno-Canto

And who or what the heck was La Sagra? The answer is: multi-talented Spanish botanist Ramón Dionisio José de la Sagra y Peris (1798–1871), who was also a writer, economist, sociologist, politician, anarchist, and founder of the world’s first anarchist journal El Porvenir (“The Future”). At one time he lived in Cuba and became director of Havana’s Botanical Garden; his name lives on arguably more significantly in ornithological than in anarchist circles (actually, an ‘anarchist circle’ must surely be a contradiction in terms…)

I note in passing that La Sagra is a provincial area in Spain, an Italian festive celebration, a chocolatier, or a small comet – all of which meanings may have to be negotiated online before you get to the flycatcher…

Ramón Dionisio José de la Sagra y PerisFinally, to continue with the recently introduced avian philatelic theme, here are stamps from the Cayman Islands and Cuba featuring the La Sagra’s Flycatcher. The Cuban stamp commemorates the death of Juan Gundlach, the man who chose La Sagra’s name to bestow on this bird