Date: 4/22/18 11:02 am
From: Steve Johnson via VA-bird <va-bird...>
Subject: [VA-bird] early Empid, Fauquier, 22 April

Hello birders,

Can you please advise me on an Empidonax flycatcher ID? Lynn and I were out surveying for the Breeding Bird Atlas this morning 22 April near Markham (Fauquier County). We saw a small bird foraging like a flycatcher at about 8-10 feet above the ground. I looked at it for a long time, studying eye ring, length of primary projection, etc., none of which were probably going to help us anyway. We both listened to try and hear some song. No vocals unfortunately.

I am positive this was an Empid family bird. The family ID is based on giss, overall coloration, wing bars, behavior, bill size and shape, shape of head and crest, and shape and width of eye ring. I had no idea which species it was, except I believe it was too large for Least Fly.

Nearby there was a White-eyed Vireo foraging. Our flycatcher had significant greenish color and yellowish edgings, but subdued by comparison with the Vireo. It struck me as greener than I recall from past years when I saw Alder and Willow.

The foraging behavior was short flights to nearby perches, not returning, and not long flights. The habitat was mixed second growth on a slope; open shrubs under short-medium height deciduous trees, just slightly more open than I would have expected for the Vireo.

So then I looked at eBird reports of Empid flycatchers so far this year. The only one further north is Least, and that has only occurred further west (Ohio). The furthest north of the other Empids (by far) is Acadian, a few reports in North Carolina.

Would Acadian be consistent with the moderate greenish color on this bird? And if so, does the much-further-north distribution this year of Acadians, compared to other Empid species, warrant reporting it as such?

Thanks everyone. FYI before anyone asks -- yes, we did consider all the Vireo species and Kinglets and other flycatcher spp. We saw and heard Great-crested Fly and Ruby-crowned Kings there today, and this was not one of those.

Steve Johnson

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