Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2022-15

Common name:

Dusky-capped Flycatcher

Scientific name: Myiarchus tuberculifer
Date: April 23, 2022
Time: 9:03 am
Length of time observed: At least 18 minutes
Number: 1
Age: Unknown
Sex: Unknown
Location: Lytle Ranch Preserve
County: Washington
Latilong: 37.149701, -114.018199
Elevation: ~2,820 feet above sea level
Distance to bird: Photos as close as ~15 feet to ~40 feet. First sound recording ~105 feet
Optical equipment: Lisa Thompson-Swarovski binoculars EL 8.5x42; Sony camera A7R3 with Sony lens 200-600 G f5.6-6.3. John Neill-Swarovski binoculars SLC 8x30 WB
Weather: Sunny during observation but probably partly cloudy. Wind none to light. Temperature estimated to be near 50 degrees Fahrenheit [Temperature was 47 at 8:52 am and 51 at 9:52 am at BADGER SPRING, UT (RAWS - SLC) Elev: 3990 ft; Lat/Lon: 37.150667/-113.954]
Light Conditions: Observations were made in the open under sunny conditions.
Description:        Size of bird: Hermit thrush
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Flycatcher
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Brown with white chest, yellow belly
(Description:)            Bill Type: black, medium size
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:

First identified by wheer call. Merlin Sound ID suggested a possible dusky-capped flycatcher. At first sight we saw an obvious Myiarchus flycatcher with yellow belly; slightly dingy white upper chest and neck; brown head, back, wings, and tail; rufous edges on the secondaries; and a medium-sized, dark bill. It was quite approachable, so Lisa took a bunch of photos, and we both took sound recordings. We don t have much experience with Myiarchus flycatchers, but compared to the numerous ash-throated flycatchers at Lytle Ranch Preserve, the belly seemed much brighter yellow and the tail was brown and seemed to lack any rufous tones on the top of the tail and on the underside of the tail. Comparing the Myiarchus flycatcher with images in The Sibley Guide to Birds first edition, the head and face did seem to have an even shade of brown and the rufous on the secondaries was reduced compared to ash-throated and brown-crested flycatchers that are known to the area. The
wing bars appeared faint, but we didn t have another Myiarchus species nearby to compare.

Song or call & method of delivery: It only repeated the wheer call every so often from a perch, sometimes repeating within a few seconds to more than 25 seconds in one of our recordings. It was constantly looking for flying insects and would call while doing so with a slight opening of the bill.
Behavior: The Myiarchus flycatcher was occasionally making the wheer" call while looking and sallying for flying insects from a high perch on the vegetation. Perches would shift after catching a flying insect, and it would land on another perch close to where the insect was caught. It was often approaching or distancing itself from us based on where the insects were caught.
Habitat: Mojave desert adjacent to Beaver Dam Wash. The Myiarchus flycatcher was about 105 feet east and about 10-15 feet in elevation from a dirt road on the eastern edge of Beaver Dam Wash. It was found in a patch of creosote bushes with tall deciduous trees (some were cottonwoods) between the creosote patch and the dirt road. Further east was typical vegetation for the area including Joshua trees. Further to the west was the actual wash with a small creek. There was a stock pond with some turbid water in it about 260 feet north of the flycatcher.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Distinguished from the common ash-throated flycatcher based on the relatively bright yellow belly of the dusky-capped flycatcher and its general lack of rufous tones on both sides of the tail and secondaries. The ash-throated flycatcher also has more color variation in face according to the Sibley Guide, more prominent wing-bars and tertial edges. The less common brown-crested flycatcher has a brighter yellow belly like the dusky-capped flycatcher, but it shows much more rufous on the secondaries and tail, which the dusky-capped flycatcher didn t have. After our observation and upon doing a comparison of all call types of these three Myiarchus species using the Merlin Bird ID app on our phones, only dusky-capped flycatcher had a similar call.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
None with dusky-capped and brown-crested flycatchers. John Neill has had occasional experience with ash-throated flycatchers while on vacation in southern Utah, mostly by sound recognition of calls and song.
References consulted: Merlin Bird ID app on our iPhones. We each used the Sound ID feature to identify the call as that from a dusky-capped flycatcher. The app was also used to quietly play the app s catalog of calls from the dusky-capped flycatcher to confirm the ID. The calls of the other Myiarchus species were played on the app after our observation. We had the The Sibley Guide to Birds first edition in hand at the time of visual identification.
Description from: From memory
From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Lisa Thompson (photos and three recordings) and John Neill (two recordings and drafted sight record)
Observer's address: John Neill 1052 Roosevelt Avenue Salt Lake City, UT 84105
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Not known. Kendall Watkins?
Date prepared: Started on 4/27/2022 and completed first draft on 4/28/2022. Submitted on 5/3/2022 after some minor edits.
Additional material: Photos, Sounds recordings .wav
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