Sunday, May 27, 2012

May 27: Empids

Birds of the flycatcher genus Empidonax all look alike for the most part. So when you see one, unless it's singing, you generally can't tell which of several species it might be. We have to let a lot of Empids go unidentified, just tiny grey-green flycatchers with wing bars and some kind of eye ring.

My husband and I got lucky today, however. We actually heard four of the five Empids that might be found out on Monnhegan Island, and as a bonus, got good looks at several. Here's what we saw/heard:

Least Flycatcher: says "Che-beck"
Alder Flycatcher: says "Free-beer!"
Willow Flycatcher: says "Fitz-bew"
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher: says "Pe-wee!" but not like a pewee says it. It also has a distinct yellow wash on its belly, unlike the others.
(The fifth Empid is the Acadian Flycatcher, which is the rarest in these parts; I've only had one out here once.)

So, despite a paucity of warblers, we enjoyed our flycatcher day (we also heard/saw a Great Crested Flycatcher, kingbirds, and pewees). It involved a lot of standing quietly near lush, thickety wet areas with our ears and eyes on high alert, which also enabled us to spot several other birds as they passed by--as well as swarms of little flies in the columns of light filtering through the trees, the birds' reason for being there. A welcome change of pace.

Flycatcher puzzle
keeps us occupied for hours,
intent but content.

Flycatcher Quest on Trail #6

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