[Tweeters] Reporting on the mystery flycatcher

Jane Hadley hadleyj1725 at gmail.com
Sat Jan 30 12:29:18 PST 2016

Hello Tweetsters -- I am reporting back on the responses to my request
for help identifying a flycatcher.

This bird was photographed in August along Siwash Creek Road east of
Tonasket in Okanogan County. Specifically, this was taken where the road
crosses the creek, so the immediate habitat was largely deciduous.
Outside this riparian patch was open country with some scattered conifers.

You can see a picture of the bird at http://goo.gl/shBhEZ

I received 19 responses and would like to thank all for weighing in.

I erred in presenting the choices by leaving out Western Wood-Pewee,
though I did allow people an "Other" option, which many used to choose
Western Wood-Pewee. Here's the breakdown:

Western Wood-Pewee: 8
Willow Flycatcher: 7
Dusky Flycatcher: 3
Gray Flycatcher: 1

Here are the reasons people cited for their identifications:

*Western Wood Pewee*

-Looks long-winged, overall gray aspect, bill too big for an empid, lack
of eye ring. A little bit of white throat is OK for a pewee.

-Primary projection too long for an empid, gray plumage and slight vest

-Earthy gray overall, with long thin body, all-dark bill and almost no

-Overall dusky complexion throughout the body

-gray, dusky color

-The lower mandible is mostly dark. The wing bars are rather faint. The
eye ring is narrow and indistinct. The proportions do not seem
"Empidonax." The undertail coverts seem to be somewhat 'smudgy.'

*Willow Flycatcher*

-Tail not long enough for Dusky or Gray. Bill too large for Hammond's.
Not vested or crested enough for Olive-sided.

-Wide flat bill

-Weak eye-ring.

-Habitat alone should tell you what this is, all others should be in
conifer forest at this time of year unless they are starting migration.
Overall coloration, yellow on lower mandible, faint eye-ring, and
contrast between head and throat all are good field marks for Willow

-Faint eye-ring, light throat, yellow on belly, darker wings with two
white bars (unless that is just the camera angle).

*Dusky Flycatcher*

-Wings are short, not quite making it to the longest part of the
undertail coverts. Vested appearance. Looks like the lower part of the
bill has some yellowish color. Bill appears failry large. The habitat --
open pine forest.

-Looks too long-tailed to be Hammond's. I don't see a lower yellow
mandible like the Willow. Don't think that it fits Gray unless you saw
the down tail bobbing.

*Gray Flycatcher*

No rationale given for this guess.

All in all, this exercise reinforced the reputation that the Empidonax
and similar flycatchers have as being difficult to identify. Sammy
Catiis sent this helpful link to an article proposing ways of
identifying these birds in the field:


Jane Hadley
Seattle, WA

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