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Dusky Flycatcher, 102nd Caballo CBC

Dusky Flycatcher image (side) Dusky Flycatcher image (front)

Photos by Jim Paton at Percha Dam State Park on December 30, 2001.

Description by Barry Zimmer: ``On December 30, Jim Paton spotted an Empidonax flycatcher foraging in the willow growth along the river. It was actively feeding and somewhat skittish so it took a while before any of us got a decent look. We all realized it was of the Hammond's/Dusky variety, and began debating its identity. Previously on this count we have had Hammond's on several occasions, but never Dusky. The bird remained silent during this observation. It was olive above with two pale yellowish-white wingbars. The underparts were pale yellow (brightest in the vent) shading to pale olive on the mid-breast and pale gray on the throat. It had a distinct eyering that was slightly enlarged at the rear (somewhat teardrop-shaped but not so much as a Cordilleran). The upper mandible of the bill was dark while the lower mandible was fleshy basally (perhaps half the length) and dark at the tip. The bill did not seem particularly wide nor did it seem as thin as the typical Hammond's. At the time I commented that the amount of pink on the bill and the unimpressive primary extension (not as long as I tend to think of Hammond's as being) did not favor Hammond's but were more reminiscent of Dusky. In later views though, the bill seemed thin and small enough to possibly be that species. We also kept thinking about past history of Empidonax on this count. Since the bird was silent and we were not convinced one way or the other of visual marks, we listed the bird as a Hammond's/Dusky for the count. Jim took two photos of the bird.

``On January 6, 2002, I returned with a tour group to bird the same area. I walked around this willow patch playing a Hammond's Flycatcher tape and got no response at all. I also got no response to screech-owl calls. Later while the group was eating lunch I rechecked the area and this time played Dusky Flycatcher tape. Within five seconds the bird flew into a small cottonwood overhead and began emphatically giving `whit' call notes typical of Dusky and very different from the `peek' call notes of Hammond's. When the group finished eating, we returned to the spot and once again the bird responded immediately to Dusky Flycatcher tape and gave constant `whit' notes.''

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See also: Documentation for the 102nd New Mexico CBC
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John W. Shipman,
Last updated: 2002/11/14 20:49:46