Documentation of Alder Flycatcher

Observer Information

Reporter:  David Dowell  3721 Staghorn Dr,   Longmont, CO  80503
Other Observers:  Kathy Mihm Dunning

Species, Date, Time and Location Information

Species:  Alder Flycatcher
First Date/Time:  9/10/2016 9:25:00 AM
Last Date/Time:  9/10/2016 9:35:00 AM
Duration (total time in view):  10 minutes
County:  Kit Carson
Specific Location:  Flagler Reservoir State Wildlife Area
Number:  1
Age:  Immature
Sex:  Unknown
Plumage:  Other/Unknown


bushes and trees along seasonal stream south of lake

Viewing Conditions

Optics:  binoculars, camera
Distance:  as close as 20 feet
Light:  full sun; bird sometimes in sun, sometimes in shade

Description of the Bird

We observed the bird, clearly an empidonax flycatcher, on low perches for about 10 minutes.  Observed characteristics were relatively bulky appearance for an empid; wide tail; olive back; long primary projection; high-contrast white and yellowish-white edges on tertials and secondaries; yellow/buffy wingbars (suggestive of a first-year bird); whiteish belly and flanks (little or no yellow apparent); slight gray wash on breast; white throat; grayish face; thick bill, dark on top and pale on bottom; and complete, narrow eyering.  The attached photos are representative of what we saw through binoculars.  One exception is that the eyering appears wider in some of the photos than it did in the field, as is often the case.

The bird flipped its tail upward several times during the 10 minutes.  The bird was silent the entire time.

Similar Species Discussion

Since the bird did not call, its ID is based on visual characteristics through process of elimination.  Based on the bulky appearance, wide tail, and large bill, we narrowed down the list to the larger empids:  Willow, Acadian, and Alder.  Willow was eliminated because it would have had an imcomplete / less well defined eyering.  Acadian was eliminated because it would have had yellower underparts and a larger bill.

Resources Used

Sibley Guide to Birds
We also discussed the ID with Tony Leukering.

Previous Experience

We observe empidonax flycatchers regularly during the warm season.  I have seen about a dozen Alder Flycatchers in Colorado and a few more farther east.  Kathy has been birding longer than me and thus has more experience with empids.


Notes made DURING observation

Date Documentation Submitted

2/4/2017 10:00:00 AM
Click left or right edges of photos to move through all; click outside image to close

Location Map

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