[CT Birds] Yellow-bellied Flycatchers

Jacob Musser jacob.musser at yale.edu
Mon Sep 16 21:56:45 EDT 2013


Hello,

Great discussion on Yellow-bellied Flycatcher ID, including good points 
by Mark, Greg, Luke, Jay and others.  I just wanted to add a few 
comments regarding the bird we had at Bluff Point on Sunday, 
particularly as it pertains to the separation of YB Flycatcher from 
Acadian.

Our bird was observed at fairly close range and exhibited some olive 
wash on the sides of the breast with the rest of the underparts, 
including throat, being a dingy yellow.  Further, the yellow on the 
throat was no paler then the yellow found on the rest of the 
underparts.  We also noted distinct yellowish wing bars, a quite 
prominent complete yellowish eye ring, and a rounded crown.  These last 
two marks gave the bird a fairly distinct expression, and were 
consistent with what I've seen with YB Flycatcher in the past (I grew up 
in Northern Michigan where they bred and I have also banded several of 
them).

So what about Acadian Flycatcher?  In most plumages, Acadian Flycatchers 
throat is whitish (or at least paler in color then yellow on the rest of 
the underparts).  However, as noted by several others, hatching year 
Acadian Flycatchers can exhibit extensive yellow on the underparts, 
including on the throat. These birds have gone through a partial molt 
and several articles I've read have mentioned this can be quite bright.  
A quick side note, hatching year YB Flycatcher also goes through a 
partial molt before migration and can also be quite bright.  While I 
have less experience with Acadian Flycatcher, Kenn Kauffman has 
described the throat color on these young Acadian Flycatchers as being a 
pale clear yellow (see his updated account in the new 2011 "Field Guide 
to Advanced Birding").  The few pictures I've been able to find of young 
Acadian Flycatchers are consistent with this.  In addition to the 
underparts, Acadian also has a narrower eye ring, a longer bill, and 
less overall rounded crown, giving it a different expression.  In 
regards to these marks, our bird struck me as being consistent with YB 
Flycatcher, with the dingy yellow throat rather then pale clear throat, 
and with the prominent eye ring and rounded crown.

Finally, although field marks are obviously the most important aspect of 
ID, I also think it is worth considering whether Acadian is any more 
likely to be migrating through Bluff Point at this time of year.  
According to Frank Gallo whom I spoke with this evening, Acadians tend 
to disappear quite early from their breeding grounds, often by late 
August.  While Jay has mentioned some mid September records of Acadians 
that he is familar with, given that we are towards the north end of 
their range I would think a record of Acadian now would be even more 
exceptional than one for YB Flycatcher (although I could be wrong and 
would appreciate comments from those with more knowledge).

Anyways, thanks again for this useful discussion!  Any opportunity we 
have to learn more about challenging identifications is worthwhile.

All the best,
Jake



On 9/15/2013 4:52 PM, Glenn Williams wrote:
> Mark,
>
> Jake Musser found the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher at the hot corner at Bluff Point this morning.  We had 12 empidonax today and this one stood out with a huge, yellowish eye-ring, giving it a plain-faced and "surprised" expression.  The bird had an overall yellowish wash through the underparts including the same shade of yellow in the throat.  I wondered, at the time, if the throat was yellow enough; but no other eastern empid has yellow in the throat..  Jake saw the yellow very well and mentioned that the wing bars had a yellow wash as well.
>
>
> Glenn Williams
> Mystic
>
>
> ________________________________
>   From: Mark Szantyr <birdinggeek at gmail.com>
> To: CTbirds <ctbirds at lists.ctbirding.org>
> Sent: Sunday, September 15, 2013 4:05 PM
> Subject: [CT Birds] Yellow-bellied  Flycatchers
>   
>
> Now i am not doubting any sightings in particular but i felt a need to excercise my curmudgeon muscles. We are rapidly  getting toward the end of the typical migration window for Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.
>
> Would observers please share how this species was identified?  It is a tough one and i am sure many of the reports are correct. I am just curious because there have been a few and its getting late.
>
> Mark
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