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Flycatchers & Sparrow


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Camped overnight at a spring in the middle of the sagebrush sea, and could use an ID confirm on some birds we found in this little migrant trap. For reference, this is Bush Springs in Wyoming, and it is located here:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/42°06'45.6"N+108°49'46.1"W/@42.1126772,-108.8294622,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d42.1126772!4d-108.8294622

First the sparrow, which I IDd at the time as a Chipping Sparrow. It was foraging along the ground in a space between willows and sage. However, I had just heard a towhee call prior to this, so I was considering it might be a juvenile. Not seeing much that would define it either way for me. I only got one clear shot before I lost it in the brush.

2020%2009%2006%20Unknown%20Bush%20Spring

Flycatcher 1: Not too long before this, I'd seen a Gray Flycatcher, bobbing its tail which was a helpful ID considering none of them were vocalizing. This might be another Gray, but the tail and bird seemed longer, so I thought it might be worth another look.

2020%2009%2006%20Unknown%20Flycatcher%20

Flycatcher 2: Looks spot on for a Hammond's, but I don't trust myself. Also looks like a Least...

2020%2009%2005%20Unknown%20Flycatch%20Bu

Flycatcher 3: At first I though the same bird as the #2 bird, but it seems like the definition of white on the wings is less so, with more olive coloring. It could be light though, as they were taken at dusk and morning. But I'd still probably go with Hammond's.

 

2020%2009%2006%20Unknown%20Flycatcher%20

 

Flycatcher #4 - this one zipped up to the tree branch and then was gone. It wasn't keeping to the lower branches of small trees like the others above. Longer, more upright, and just can barely see the eye ring, but again this was the only shot I got before it flew away. I'd probably go with Willow here with the light wing bars and eye ring, and yellow coloring, which I sometimes see out here.

 

2020%2009%2006%20Unknown%20Flycatcher%20

 

The highlight was finding a Cassin's Vireo out there, so it's an interesting place and possible migrant stop over, but it's really in the middle of nowhere, which is how I like it, but not easy to get to from where I live. Thanks in advance for any help, flycatchers, always exciting to find, frustrating to ID. Thank you!

Edited by okaugust
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Juvenile Spotted Towhees look like this.

Juvenile Green-tailed Towhees look like this.

Both are illustrated in Sibley (2014).

2 -- Gray and Dusky flycatchers are incredibly similar in shape, including the shortish primary projection and long tail. Since the mandible pattern is not visible, I'd call it Gray/Dusky, though the color of the plumage has me leaning a bit toward Gray.

3 and 4 -- longish primary projection and medium-length tail -- Hammond's

5 -- The head is turned partly away, so bill length and color pattern are unreliable. Tail is far too long for Hammond's. Primary projection, unless it's hidden (which is distinctly possible with this posture), is far too short for Hammond's and any other Empidonax options other than Gray/Dusky. On this one, I'd lean to Dusky, due to the greenness of the plumage. Given that it appears to be an adult (wing bars not buffy, wing coverts seem worn), that should rule out Gray.

Gray and Dusky molt on winter grounds; Hammond's molts on summer grounds, hence the difference in their fall-migration timing, at least at the front end (see here).

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