Date: 7/14/20 12:12 pm
From: Noah Strycker <noah.strycker...>
Subject: [obol] Re: Empidonax (Yeah-But)
Hi Jack,

I'd be pretty happy listing both of these birds as Dusky Flycatchers. The
first photo is especially nice, with that classic, crisp contrast between
the pale gray head and dark greenish back (which a Pac-slope definitively
should not show - they are uniformly yellowish on the head and body),
relatively symmetric eye ring (surprisingly variable and often
overemphasized, but looks good for Dusky/Hammond's to me), significant
yellow on the bill (not good for Hammond's), relatively short primaries
(not good for Hammond's), compact structure with peaked smallish head and
darker back and rump (not good for Gray, which should be noticeably grayer
and lankier with a softly rounded head, or Pac-slope, which should have a
blockier and proportionally larger head), and habitat (perfect for Dusky,
which is abundant in the dry forests in this area - while
Pac-slope/Hammond's both prefer to breed in wet coniferous forests and Gray
usually prefers open habitats dominated by big sage, juniper, and rimrock).
Vocalizations are also helpful with empid ID, of course: Of these species,
only Dusky and Gray have a soft "whit" call note.

For fun, I'd also recommend downloading Merlin (free app), which is
remarkably accurate given a clear photo (though not infallible!), having
now been trained on thousands of images. I tried it out of curiosity on
several of the profile-view photos in your album, and its algorithm guessed
Dusky on every one.

Good birding,

On Tue, Jul 14, 2020 at 6:55 AM Jack Williamson <
<jack.williamson.jr...> wrote:

> Thanks to those who responded so quickly. I woke up to four
> thoughtful replies - each with a different ID :-) Which made me feel better
> of course. The one piece of advice that I keep forgetting is that the
> visual ID of Empidonax is a fools errand. I will keep trying nevertheless.
> Thanks again.
> Jack Williamson
> West Linn, Oregon
> On Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 9:11 PM Jack Williamson <
> <jack.williamson.jr...> wrote:
>> This morning while sitting in a meadow near Black Butte Ranch caring for
>> my dog Remy's paw, two different flycatchers flew into a nearby bush within
>> 30-45 seconds of each other.
>> Empidonax flycatchers are hard to come by for me, especially nearby with
>> good lighting. So I thought - finally, I will be able to make a couple of
>> definitive identifications after capturing good images of each bird.
>> My choice of species based on the eBird bar charts for July for this area
>> includes Hammond's, Dusky, Gray, Pacific Slope, and this year Least.
>> I am convinced I am somewhere on the bird-id-autism-spectrum after
>> spending several hours comparing my images to the online literature and
>> coming up with buttkiss.
>> I thought the second bird that seemed to be following the first might be
>> the offspring of the first because I have never seen flycatchers follow
>> each other, but I ruled that out after seeing the worn retrices of the
>> second bird.
>> Your impressions will be much appreciated.
>> Images of the first bird have a green background the second blue.
>> Jack Williamson
>> West Linn, Oregon

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