7/11 Mystery Bird #2

Here are some shots from today of what looks like a new bird for the game, at least if we can figure out what it is. These four shots were all by txbird; either no one else was on the system at the time, no one else was paying attention, or no one else had any shots left:

It’s clearly a flycatcher, and the overall color pattern says Myiarchus to me. If I were seeing this bird around my Southern California home, I wouldn’t even wonder; I’d call it an Ash-throated Flycatcher and be done with it (which I realize is a little bit bogus; rarities happen, after all). But in the south-central Texas environs of CONE Welder things are more complicated.

Sibley shows three species of Myiarchus flycatchers near CONE Welder in the summertime: Ash-throated, Brown-crested (which is a species of interest in the shifting-breeding-range study), and (maybe) Great Crested. The Welder checklist gives the following:

  S S F W
Ash-throated Flycatcher R U  
Great Crested Flycatcher O O
Brown-crested Flycatcher R U  

The three species are quite similar-looking, and even though we’ve got a number of excellent shots here, I can’t say that I’m confident based on appearance which one of the three birds to call it. But overall I guess if I had to pick something I’d pick Ash-throated Flycatcher: It looks as much like that to me as it does either of the others, and the Sibley range map and the Welder checklist both agree that it’s unambiguously there in summer. But I really don’t know.

I’d definitely be interested in whether Dr. Glasscock has any opinion about this bird’s ID. And of course, it goes without saying that I’ll be watching closely to see if we can get any more shots of this very interesting bird. Thanks, txbird, for doing such a great job on the camera!

5 Responses to “7/11 Mystery Bird #2”

  1. tinkerbird says:

    Hi there I am from Ireland and new to ‘Texas Birding Online’. I have no experince of birding from this part of the world and just have Sibley to go on.
    Pictures 3 and 4 give good views of the birds undertail. Sibley suggests (that at least in adult Ash-throated flycatcher) that the dark colour extending down the undertail sides of Ash-throated extends across the tip of the undertail. This feature is not apparent on either of these excellent shots, leading me to think that it might be either Brown crested or Great crested. I am looking forward to learning something new!

  2. Rafa says:

    You can see some videos of the Ash-throated Flycatcher in the next link. Color pattern Sibley described is not so obvious (he says “usually”) I think Ash-throated coud be too a good guess.

  3. Rafa says:

    People from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute at http://www.enaturalist.org/ have been so kind to send this info in a few minutes after my question:

    I would agree with you that your bird is in the genus Myiarchus but the photos are not clear enough to make a definite determination of which one. The two birds that are in question here, as I see it, are the Ash-throated and Brown-crested Flycatchers. The Brown-crested has a heavier bill and feet than the Ash-throated but in your photos, I’m not able to see clearly enough to tell.

    If someone in your group hear d it singing that can be helpful. The Ash-throated has a series of repeated phrases or a musical kaBRIK. The Brown-crested has low, alternating phrases that sound like prEErrr-prdrdrrr, wrrp-didider. Sibley’s book “Guide to Birds” discusses all of this and is your best bet in trying to figure this out. Someone who works at the Welder center may also have a good idea what you saw. Sorry I can’t be more helpful.

    John Wiessinger — July 19, 2008

  4. Rafa says:

    Again I’ve got another answer from John Wiessinger at http://www.enaturalist.org Thanks John and the enaturalist staff fot your help , interest and your prompt reply!:

    “Just dawned on me how you obtained the photos. I did learn about the work you’re doing with cameras focused on a feeding station that allows participants to take photos at home on their computer when they see something interesting. Great idea!

    I haven’t been to Welder (one of our staff members has) myself but knowing the habitat there may helpful in figuring this out . I still believe it is either the Ash-throated (M. cinerascens) or Brown-crested (M. tyrannulus) Flycatcher that you have in your photos. According to Sibley, the Ash-throated is more commonly found in open, arid habitat while the Brown-crested is more partial to riparian (habitat along a stream or river) woods. Hope this helps with your sleuthing”

    Good luck.

    John Wiessinger — July 19, 2008

  5. Rafa says:

    John Wiessinger from Roger Tory Peterson Institute at http://www.enaturalist.org forwarded the following comments from John Rappoleā€

    “Most likely, any Myiarchus at Welder now is Brown-crested. Ash-throated have been seen there, but are not common.
    Great Crested are there only during migration, so far as is known. Although the three species differ somewhat in appearance, it is not safe to identify them from a photo – unless you have a clear view of the underside of the tail! Best way to identify them in the field is by voice.”

    Thanks a lot to you both for your great help!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.