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Least Flycatcher ??

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I've spent quite a bit of time on this bird.  I understand flycatchers are hard to distinguish, but I have decent pictures and thought I might have a shot at it.  The pictures are from Mt. Revelstoke National Park in British Columbia.  Specifically, they were taken on the Skunk Cabbage Trail.  This boardwalk trail goes through marsh/wetlands near a river.  It is in a heavily wooded area, so it is good habitat for a range of wildlife.  Date: August 22.

The park maintains a wildlife list.  Candidates found in the park:  Olive-sided FC, Western Wood-Pewee, Alder FC, Willow FC, Hammond's FC, Dusky FC, Least FC.  All are shown as "common", except Least FC which is shown as "rare".

My thoughts on each:

  • Olive-sided FC: My bird shows no grey vest and has what I would call a prominent eye ring (see picture 1).
  • Western Wood-Pewee:  My bird shows no grey vest and has thick wing bars.
  • Alder FC:  My bird has a prominent eye ring and does not show much of a chest band.  Having said that, I believe the bird is sitting in an Alder Tree, so maybe karma is with Alder FC.
  • Willow FC:  My bird has a prominent eye ring and does not show much of a chest band.
  • Hammond's FC:  While Hammond's has a prominent eye ring, it is often almond shaped.  My bird does not look almond shaped.  Hammond's have long primaries, I don't think this bird's primaries look like pictures I've seen of Hammond's.  Hammond's chests seem to be greyer than this bird.  Finally, Hammond's have a narrow bill with dark lower mandible.  I think picture 3 shows a pretty wide bill and none of the pictures show dark lower mandible.
  • Dusky FC:  Eye ring is a good match for Dusky.  So is the overall chest (pale, not a lot of grey).  However, Dusky's bill looks longer and narrower.  Also, Dusky shows pale lores.  I don't see those on this bird, especially picture 3.
  • Least FC:  Eye ring is a good match for Least.  So is the overall chest (pale, not a lot of grey).   The bill in picture 3 looks a lot like the bill silhouette in Nat Geo - "short, broad-based".  The big issue for Least is that the park checklist shows it as "rare".  However, the park is within the Least's range and ebird has some sightings in the area.

My final conclusion is Least FC, with Dusky as a good possibility.  If I have misinterpreted "prominent eye ring" on this bird, then Willow/Alder are also candidates.  Merlin is showing Alder, Willow, Least and Yellow-bellied.  The priority order varies by picture.  I discounted yellow-bellied because it is out of range and not on the park checklist.

Any thoughts on this bird?  Thanks in advance!

Picture 1:



Picture 2:



Picture 3:




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To me, it seems most like a Traill's (Alder / Willow) based on the structure (fairly thick bill, less "compact" looking than Least). An eyering is present, but not as strong or thick the whole way around like a lot of Least's. In addition to that, I think a Least can probably be eliminated just because it seems a little too buff / tan-colored. 

Alder Flycatchers are actually more likely than "western" Willow Flycatchers (extimus, adastus, and brewsteri subspecies - from Birds of North America) to have that sort of eyering. Western Willow Flycatchers often completely lack an eyering, which is useful to tell them apart from other western flycatchers. If those subspecies are the expected WIFL's at the location you birded, I would lean towards Alder... definitely best to separate them by call though.

Edited by tedsandyman
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