[CT Birds] Pacific Slope Flycatcher - a new CT bird!

julian hough jrhough1 at snet.net
Fri May 20 14:23:22 EDT 2016

The empidonax flycatcher found by Steve Mayo, Howie (Steinberg?) and Jim Cortina during the Branford Christmas Count 2015/2016 was identified in the field (and accepted by the ARCC) as either a Pacific Slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher. Out of context vagrants, unless calling, are impossible to identify to species and are referred to colloquially as “Western” Flycatcher.
Pacific Slope, being the more northerly distributed of the two, is the suspected identity of vagrant east coast empids, and those that have been heard calling have all been attributable to this species. 
I collected a fecal sample  (as did Steve Broker) from the recent Branford bird and I sent mine along to Cornell in hopes that DNA may add a few clues to its identity. Along with researcher Nicholas Mason, Nathan Goldberg provided the following:
"Hi Julian, I have good news for you! We got a great sequence from one of the four sections of the ND2 gene, and it contained 3 SNPs (out of 5) that we were going to use to differentiate Pac Slope and Cordilleran, and your bird has all 3 SNPs that would deem it a Pac Slope! Now this is not to say it couldn't be a hybrid bird, but the likelihood of that is quite low so we are fairly confident in calling your bird a Pac Slope!"
Assuming official acceptance by the ARCC, this would become the first documented (and therefore countable!) state record of Pacific Slope Flycatcher for CT.
The previous and only other record of “Western” Flycatcher occurred on 1 Dec 2007 at Osbornedale State Park in Derby (Roy. Harvey et. al.) Julian Hough New Haven, CT 06519  www.naturescapeimages.wordpress.com

More information about the CTBirds mailing list