Documentation of Gray Flycatcher

Observer Information

Reporter:  Michael Middleton  3068 S Lakeridge Tr,   Boulder, CO  80302
Other Observers:  none

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Gray Flycatcher
First Date/Time:  5/11/2020 2:00:00 PM
Last Date/Time:  5/11/2020 2:20:00 PM
Duration (total time in view):  20 minutes
County:  Boulder
Specific Location:  Lake of the Pines, just north of Greenbriar Inn on west side of Hwy 36
Number:  1
Age:  Adult
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


scattered bushes and small trees in grassland just west of Hwy 36

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  Nikon Monarch 7 binos
Distance:  30-50 ft.
Light:  overcast, light rain

Description of the Bird

First impression, flycatcher, behaving like a flycatcher, perching and sallying out a short distance, to the ground or in the air, then returning to a nearby perch. Wagging it's tail constantly (downward, with a slower return, about every second or two). Perching near ground on the edge of a bush, on a fence post, or up on a tree branch as high as 10 feet. Stayed in grassy area with scattered bushes and small trees. Two prominent white wingbars, big-headed, white eye ring, so it looked like an Empidonax. But it appeared fairly large (larger than the Cordilleran Flycatchers which are common here) and gray and very light-colored. Grayish overall, with lighter, almost white undersides. Fairly narrow white eyering and white lores gave it a 'spectacled' look. Forehead appeared blackish, but it was raining lightly, which can make feathers look streaky. Didn't notice white outer tail feathers until I looked at photos, it appears bird sometimes hid them and they sometimes showed. Dark legs. I can't judge primary projection. Didn't call. I followed it for about 20 minutes. 

Similar Species Discussion

I fairly quickly thought of Gray Flycatcher, a bird I've seen before but not here in the Front Range. Why? Because of it's gray color. It didn't look like the Cordilleran Flycatchers or Hammond's or Duskys I've seen here. Then, when I referred to the field guides, the combination of a 'spectacled' look, overall gray color and dipping tail seemed to confirm it. But then again... 

Resources Used

Nat. Geog. Field Guide, 7th ed.; Sibley Guide to Birds

Previous Experience

Not extensive experience with this species, but I have seen it before further west. I've seen all the Empidonax sp., most commonly the Cordilleran here. Could it be a Dusky? Similar habitat. But tail wagging? 


Review of photos

Materials Available

Photographer: middleton

Photos |

No files uploaded.

Date Documentation Submitted

5/13/2020 4:56:00 PM

Location Map

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