Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's a ...well, it's a flycatcher...

Male Rufous Hummingbird. RUHUs are big on mutton chops.

I went searching for migrant songbirds today at Paulik Park. I usually start off by standing near the hummingbird feeder, because while I listen to hear who is calling elsewhere in the park, it is likely one or more hummers will pop by. I heard an Anna's Hummingbird, but it was Rufous Hummingbirds (male and female) that came to the feeder.

Flycatcher, not providing helpful hints.

And then this silent character appeared. At first I thought it was a Hammond's Flycatcher, one of those hard-to-identify Empidonax species, but it sat still, not flicking its wings and tail the way Empies are wont to do. The bird could have given a hint by calling, for song is often the best way to identify the species.

Western Wood-Pewee, Contopus sordidulus (I think). Looking in the opposite direction didn't help much, but thanks anyway.

After checking guides and online images, I'm inclined to think that this bird is not an Empidonax, but rather a Western Wood-Pewee (Genus Contopus), based on its general appearance (sort of long, as opposed to somewhat scrunchy), the grey wash on the breast, smudgy grey on the undertail coverts (a bit hard to see), and absence of tail-flicking during several minutes of observation. It has a little more of what looks like an eye-ring than perhaps it should, but that too is difficult to see clearly. It was sitting three-quarters of the way up a maple just starting to flower, which is a typical pewee sort of perch.

Speak, bird, speak!


keewee said...

We have had more hummingbirds this year than usual. i am pleased to see the rufous hummer come by the feeders. I hear their population here is declining.

karen said...

Good call, great photos. During yesterday's birdwalk in S. Maine, I so desperately tried to photograph returning species...Palm Warbler and Blue-headed vireo....but do you think they'd stay still for even a minute?

Hugh said...


Yes, they are declining, but for whatever reason(s), we have had more this year than in the past.


I miss those eastern migrants. (And no, they aren't cooperative. Even getting them into binos is a challenge.)

spinyurchin said...

Oh yeah, mutton chops! Say in waffling English accent, "I say ole boy, this is a jolly cheerful feeder, like the one back in the war".

BerryBird said...

Love the chops on your RUHU!