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Fresno County Least Flycatcher

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  • vogelherr
    I ve been spending so much time at Sequoia Lake this summer, that I haven t had time to chase any of the good birds at Madera Sewer Ponds or at the Fresno
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 10, 2006
      I've been spending so much time at Sequoia Lake this summer,
      that I haven't had time to chase any of the good birds at Madera
      Sewer Ponds or at the Fresno Sewer Ponds, so I've had to find my own
      goodies at the Lake! The probable hybrid Allen's x Black-chinned
      Hummingbird in early July was a great find, and the addition of Green
      Heron to the Sequoia Lake list was gratifying as was the female Broad-
      tailed Hummingbird three days later (which was a California first for
      me). But, yesterday I had the best find of all. In the small meadow
      across from my motor home site, I heard a sharp "pit" (or
      possibly "Wit") call which was similar to the "whit" call of Dusky,
      Willow, or Gray Flycatchers, but a little more emphatic, but not at
      all like the sharp "peek" call of Hammond's. (All of those species
      and Pacific-slope are regulars at Sequoia Lake, and all but Gray have
      nested there.) I soon found the bird, which was a tiny, chunky
      looking Empidonax Flycatcher. It was basically brownish gray on the
      crown slightly lighter on the nape and back which appeared to have an
      olive wash. The head was round and large looking for the size of the
      bird. The eye-ring was round, white and very distinctive on the gray
      cheek. The bill was short with a pale yellow/orange lower mandible.
      I could not view the bill from below, so the width could not be
      determined. The throat was whitish, not gray as it would be on a
      Hammond's. There was a faint olive wash across the upper breast, not
      at all like the darker wash on Hammond's and even lighter than that
      on most Duskys. The belly was a very pale yellow, fading to the
      white under tail coverts. The tail was narrow and shortish. The
      wings were very dark black with very conspicuous buffy wing bars, and
      almost white tertial edging. The primary extension was relatively
      short. The bird was very active flitting about in the Incense Cedar
      trees, giving several views from different angles. The one time it
      held still for more than five seconds, is was facing away from me
      giving excellent views of the tail, wings, and back, allowing good
      evaluation of primary extension and color and contrast of the wing
      bars. I think that the size of this bird alone would eliminate all
      of the usual empids except Hammond's. The other characteristics seem
      to best fit a juvenile Least Flycatcher, and taken in combination
      should eliminate all other Empidonax species. This would be a first
      Fresno County record for Least Flycatcher. -Gary
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