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An Empid for discussion.

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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 19:34   #1
maitreya
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An Empid for discussion.

Not a great photo, but not bad for handheld at 32x digital zoom.

I am interested to know what you think about identifying this Empid.

All comments welcome.

This bird is at Fields in Southeast Oregon. Habitat is a small wetland oasis in the high desert. As far as I know, there are no records of Empids breeding at Fields. Five species are common in migration.

Hammond's
Dusky
Gray
Willow
Western (presumably mostly Cordilleran types here)

Least Flycatcher has been recorded here several times, along with dozens other species of Eastern vagrants.
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Name:	Empid Primaries.jpg
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Last edited by maitreya : Friday 14th May 2004 at 02:18.
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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 20:23   #2
Michael Frankis
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Any clues on location, habitat?

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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 20:30   #3
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I can't really make out an eyering from the photo, i'll throw in a bid for a Dusky flycatcher Empidonax oberholseri but it's a toughie... and i'm pretty much a newbie....

here's a website that has a key for breeding flycatchers, that's kinda neat:
http://www.pacifier.com/~mpatters/ar...pid/empid.html

this other website may prove somewhat interesting as well...perhaps;
http://www.paulnoll.com/Oregon/Birds...her-Dusky.html
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Old Thursday 13th May 2004, 21:26   #4
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I'm looking forwards to this turning into one of the seminal ID threads.... sorry I can't help, I bottled it on the only Empid I've seen!
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 00:04   #5
Charles Harper
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Without further ado, Hammond's for me: short tail and clear eye ring, with contrast between head and upper back, small all-dark bill (or beak); Least is out of normal range. We'll never know, of course.
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 00:44   #6
Hal
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We're never going to be certain about this birds identity unless someone goes back & hears it calling. I can't even be sure what I'm looking at regarding primaries, tail length, eye-ring, etc. Give up & do as I do, record it as an "NK Empidonax species! If we don't stop it now people will be reading something into everything in the photo and the comments. It's one of those birds that will drive us nuts unless we kill the thread now!

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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 01:51   #7
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Oh I don't know Hal. I rather like watching everyone put their thoughts down as to what the bird might be and why they think so. It's a learning experience for some.
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 02:25   #8
maitreya
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hal
We're never going to be certain about this birds identity unless someone goes back & hears it calling. I can't even be sure what I'm looking at regarding primaries, tail length, eye-ring, etc. Give up & do as I do, record it as an "NK Empidonax species! If we don't stop it now people will be reading something into everything in the photo and the comments. It's one of those birds that will drive us nuts unless we kill the thread now!

Hal
Actually, the primary extension is visible on both sides of the tail. I marked the second picture showing the ends of the primaries. I think there is enough information in the photo to ID this bird.
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 04:42   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maitreya
...I think there is enough information in the photo to ID this bird.
And you think it's a...?
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 07:51   #10
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If I'd seen it in the States I'd have recorded it as probably Hammonds.... the wing length rules out Dusky, Gray and Willow, it looks gray, so presumably not Cordilleran and I'd say Least is also ruled out on wing-length..
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 09:18   #11
Andrew Whitehouse
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I've no idea at all really, having no field experience of empids, but I would also veer towards a Hammond's as it seems to have a dark bill and long primary projection.
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 12:32   #12
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I agree with Charles, Hammond's. But I'd also like to hear it to be 100%. Van
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Old Friday 14th May 2004, 16:22   #13
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All right KC
Didn't mean that the bird shouldn't be discussed! I just don't think we will ever be absolutely sure about the ID on this one. Personally I thought it was most likely a Hammonds or possibly an out of range Least. The head size, some kind of eye ring,
bill colour?, and what looks like a probable primary extension all fit. You're right that the comments & attempts to ID the birds only help people out in the long run. Just didn't want to see it popping up again next spring. I have enough trouble keeping up with the Empids without dragging out anything extra.

Just to show how far out of range some of the birds can be, and why you shouldn't put too much faith in range maps, here is the list of confirmed flycatchers for the province of Ontario. Three quarters are multiple records, and over half of those are seen annually.

Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-Pewee, *Eastern Wood-Pewee,*Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, *Acadian Flycatcher, *Alder Flycatcher, *Willow Flycatcher, *Least Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, *Eastern Phoebe, Say'sPhoebe, Vermilion Flycatcher, Ash-throated Flycatcher, *Great Crested Flycatcher, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Variegated Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, *Western Kingbird, *Eastern Kingbird, Gray Kingbird, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, and Fork-tailed Flycatcher.
* Breeds in province Italics (rare) - accidentals, strays & vagrants

This is as of December, 2003, by fall 2004 it's possibly there will be more. There are 7 flycatcher species from Mexico to Columbia with good drawings & notes, multiple reports, but single observers, no photos, and no confirmation by others.

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Old Saturday 15th May 2004, 05:42   #14
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For me, the best thing about this image is that it gives us a good idea of the cross section of the bill. I think it is reasonable to call this birds bill spike-shaped. Spike-shaped bill is consistent with Hammond's and not consistent with Least, which has a much more spatulate bill.

The coloration of this bird is consistent with Dusky, Hammond's, or Least.

The short tail of this bird is consistent with Hammond's or Least.

The primary extension of this bird is consistent with Hammond's.

There is nothing in the image that is inconsistent with Hammond's.

When I saw the bird in the field, what attracted my attention was not how it looked, but how it acted. I've studied hundreds of Empids in the field and had a few in hand when banding birds. Most Hammond's have a lot of movement when perched, flicking their wings (in the manner of a Ruby-crowned Kinglet), and flicking their tail. This particular bird was calm when perched. So, I decided to try to take the picture, just in case it turned out to be a rarity. Either I was not close enough to hear it call or it did not call during the brief time I had it under observation.
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