Oh yummy- ugh.
I am fairly confident this bird looked somewhat different in life than it does in these photos. Even as is, there are features that are not right for Western Flycatcher, of either subspecies ....... But, there are a few things not quite right for YBFL and I wonder if this is magnified by the artifacts often present in photos.
For example, it would be interesting to know if the color tones are consistent with field observations (and of course knowing your monitor might vary). While I see plenty of green to the uppers, in some pictures (but not all) I get more of a brownish tone to the green, as opposed to the darker, truer green of YBFL.
The eyering is interesting, seemingly lacking the almond of most Western, but a larger gap over the eye than most YBFL and like most WEFL. Also, was it as white as it appears in the pictures or did the lighting take out some of the yellow (that I expect on YBFL)?
The crown is interesting and intermediate. While more peaked than almost all YBFL, the peak is less pronounced to the rear than most WEFL. But, if you look at enough YBFL, you will see how they often show a peak, but it is different than that shown here, being more a partial raise between the mid and rear portion of the crown.
The head shape impacts one's perception of the bill, but when I look it just the bill, it does look more like YBFL in terms of compactness.
Wings look dark, but this is a tough feature in real life; on photos I think it is hopeless. The primary spacing is a toss-up. The feature published by Peter and I might not hold across age-sex classes and this does not appear to fit either extreme.
So, what does it mean? No clue. It is intriguing and I applaud the observers in documenting the bird and being appropriately conservative. There are several YBFL/WEFL photographs that I can not figure out. Clearly there is more to learn in this story. I know my opinion that something might be happening in AB/BC to create some intermediate birds is one some people disagree with, but since it is so obvious with other genera, I think it deserves study.
In the meantime, calling birds are real good! If silent, I want the short-billed, short-tailed, round crown, complete circular yellow eye ring, unambiguous green coloration, olive streaks on the breast, etc. I know it is a lot to ask for ....
Thanks for sending the photos. Best, matt
In a message dated 10/03/07 00:04:41 Pacific Daylight Time, henicorhina@...
I have placed a series of photos of the reported Yellow-bellied Flycatcher found 20 September by Mike San Miguel and Curtis Marantz at Galileo Hill Park, Kern County at:
I would be very interested in hearing people's opinions on this bird, as I'm sure would others.
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