Date: 11/17/20 12:48 pm
From: Fred and Chris Pratt <pipit...>
Subject: Re: [VTBIRD] Really late Empid
I don't think you are confused. Your summary is actually very good. If I
were a betting man and had to make a choice, I would go with Hammond's.
I've been to Arizona many times and used to think I could tell Hammond's
from Dusky - both on the basis of the wing-flicking, tail-wagging bit
and because of its similarity to Least (especially large-headed,
stubby-billed features).

However, I vaguely recall a very late empi in Rhode Island which had
people thinking Hammond's but was later postulated as Least....


On 11/17/2020 9:22 AM, David Guertin wrote:
> Here's today's update: This morning I sat outside for almost two hours
> trying to relocate the flycatcher, but it is apparently gone. Lacking
> any more information about this bird (particularly my failure to note
> anything about primary projection), it will forever remain identified
> as "Empidonax sp."
> But it's fun to speculate about these things, so here's my rampant
> speculation about what it *might* have been.
> At first I was only considering the usual eastern species: Least,
> Alder, and Willow (ruling out Yellow-bellied because of the color, and
> Acadian because of the range). But several people have mentioned the
> possibility of a western vagrant, and the more I've thought about it,
> the more likely that seems. I think the possibility of a western Empid
> getting its signals crossed and migrating east instead of south is at
> least as likely, maybe more so, as an eastern Empid just forgetting to
> migrate.
> So now we have to consider the western Empids as well. I lived for
> many years in Colorado and saw and heard Hammond's, Dusky, and
> Cordilleran (Western at the time) Flycatchers, but that was 30 years
> ago, and whatever I used to know about those birds has long ago been
> lost. So I need to rely on what I read and what others tell me. Of the
> western Empids, the most likely candidates are Hammond's and Dusky,
> ruling out Gray, Buff-breasted, and Cordilleran/Pacific-slope based on
> coloration (there was no hint of anything yellowish).
> The most obvious characteristics that stood out on this bird were a
> bold, obvious eye ring, and constant, incessant wing flicking (with
> less constant tail wagging). In hindsight, the eye ring is leading me
> to retract my earlier speculation about Alder/Willow.
> Which leaves us with three possibilities: Least, Hammond's, and Dusky.
> Moving on to other field marks, this bird had a bit of a crest, giving
> it that flat-top flycatcher appearance, which would tend to go against
> Dusky. Furthermore, Scott's description of Hammond's as "compact in
> size, large-headed, small-billed, and relatively short-tailed" fits
> this bird to a T. In fact, compact and short-tailed were the first
> things I noticed about it. The incessant wing-flicking also has me
> leaning towards Hammond's over Dusky.
> So now we're down to two: Least or Hammond's. Primary projection would
> really help here, but lacking that, which is more likely? Well,
> neither is likely, but which is less unlikely? I wish I could recall
> if I've seen Least Flycatchers wing-flick so much, but it seems like I
> would have remembered if I'd observed that.
> So, officially: Empidonax sp. Unofficial speculation: Hammond's. (Or
> maybe Least. Or maybe something else.)
> Dave G., confused
> On 11/16/20 3:43 PM, Scott Morrical wrote:
>> I tried to send this earlier, but I think it bounced for some
>> reason.  Sorry if this is duplicated.  I have quite a bit of field
>> experience with Western empids.  That being said, empids are empids,
>> and they are not always identifiable.  As Pipit noted, Hammond's does
>> wing-flick and tail-flip a lot. Dusky does both of these things but
>> less frequently on average.  The two species are tricky to separate
>> (sometimes impossible) without hearing vocalizations.  Hammond's
>> would appear compact in size, large-headed, small-billed, and
>> relatively short-tailed. The primary extension is long (this is one
>> of the best field marks to separate Hammonds from Dusky and Least),
>> but so is that of Alder.  The eyering of Hammond's would stand out
>> conspicuously against its dark face, and probably help to eliminate
>> Alder.
>> Scott Morrical
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On Nov 16, 2020, at 3:21 PM, David Guertin <dave...>
>>> wrote:
>>> I just went out for a third unsuccessful attempt at refinding the
>>> flycatcher. No luck, but I did find a Sharp-shinned Hawk in
>>> precisely the spot where I last saw the flycatcher. Just sayin'...
>>> I'm going to try again in the morning.
>>> Dave G.
>>>> On 11/16/20 3:01 PM, Susan Fogleman wrote:
>>>> So are there folks headed over to Dave’s place to look for this
>>>> critter?  If I lived closer than central NH, I sure would be!
>>>> Susan Fogleman
>>>> Susan Fogleman
>>>> <sfogleman...>
>>>>   “The universe is under no obligation to make sense to you.”
>>>>                                                     Neil deGrasse
>>>> Tyson
>>>>>> On Nov 16, 2020, at 2:57 PM, Fred and Chris Pratt
>>>>>> <pipit...> wrote:
>>>>> I am a bit rusty on western empi's but I think wing-flicking and
>>>>> tail-wagging was considered helpful in separating Hammond's from
>>>>> Dusky Flycatcher and other small empi's. Another tail-wagging
>>>>> western empid is Gray Flycatcher but he is larger, wags tail only.
>>>>> Fred Pratt
>>>>> On 11/16/2020 11:25 AM, David Guertin wrote:
>>>>>> Well, this was a shock. I haven't seen an Empid in over two
>>>>>> months, and yet here was one this morning in my yard in Cornwall,
>>>>>> braving the mid-November chill. This was one extremely tardy (and
>>>>>> probably cold and hungry) flycatcher.
>>>>>> Here are the notes I submitted to eBird: My first impression was
>>>>>> that of a stubby, short-tailed flycatcher that suggested Eastern
>>>>>> Wood-Pewee, but the combination of bold white wing bars and
>>>>>> obvious eye ring made it clearly an Empid. Constant wing-flicking
>>>>>> and tail wagging. Gray throat, grayish sides. The prominence of
>>>>>> the eye ring has me leaning towards Alder over Willow, but this
>>>>>> time of year with fresh plumage, who knows? I also can't rule out
>>>>>> Least, but the behavior seemed more Alderish. Found in the wild
>>>>>> raspberry patch between our yard and the adjacent farm fields.
>>>>>> I'm trying to recall if I've seen Least Flycatchers do that
>>>>>> constant nervous wing-flicking thing, but I can't recall, and my
>>>>>> field guides don't note that for Least.
>>>>>> Any flycatcher gurus want to weigh in? Whatever it was, it was
>>>>>> certainly unexpected!
>>>>>> Dave G.
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