Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # O_2005-02

Common name:

Western Flycatcher

Scientific name: Empidonax sp.
Date: January 15, 2006
Time: 0850-0915 hours
Length of time observed: 20-25 minutes
Number: one
Age: adult
Sex: unknown
Location: Red Hills Golf Course, St. George, Utah
County: Washington
Elevation: approximately 2700 ft.
Distance to bird: 20-100 ft.
Optical equipment: 8x30's (Webb) and 10 powers (Rick and Tim)
Weather: Cool and clear
Light Conditions: Good
Description:        Size of bird: Approximately 5.5 to 5.75 inches
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Flycatcher shape
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Olive to gray
(Description:)            Bill Type: Flycatching
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Head: olive-gray
Face: grayish
Bill: upper mandible was dark, lower mandible was yellowish-orange entirely
Back: olive colored
Tail: slightly notched; dark with outer 1-2 feathers cream-colored.
Flipped the tail upwards frequently.
Eye: dark; light colored eye-ring, slightly tear-drop shape posteriorly
Belly: light colored as was the neck
Flanks: olive-gray
Primaries: dark and short, only reaching to base of tail
Size: noticeably larger than both the Common Bushtits and Lesser Goldfinches that occasionally shared the same bush--not as yellow as the female goldfinches and more olive than the gray of the bushtits.
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard while we were watching it.
Behavior: Actively fly-catching from creosote and mesquite bushes and cottonwood tree at edge of golf course green.
Habitat: Typical golf course with greens lined with desert-type vegetation.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
Gray Flycatcher- More gray overall rather than olive. Gray moves the tail downward rather than upward. Also has an inconspicuous eye ring rather than tear-drop shaped.
Dusky Flycatcher- Has a bicolored bill, narrow white eye-ring, thinner bill; winter bird shows much more yellow than the one we were watching.
Hammonds Flycatcher: has a slight, tear-drop shaped eye-ring like the one we were observing, but has a differently shaped head, shorter tail and smaller bill. Bill is also darker in Hammond's than on the one we were observing.
Previous experience with
this & similar species:
A lot of experience with the Cordilleran Flycatcher--not much with the Pacific Slope species.
References consulted: Field Guide to the Birds of North America (National Geographic) and Sibley's Field Guide to Birds of the Western United States.
Description from: Notes taken at time of sighting
Observer: Merrill Webb
Observer's address: 1063 East 400 North, Orem, Utah 84097
Observer's e-mail address:
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Rick Fridell and Tim Avery
Date prepared: January 17, 2006
Additional material: Tim Avery took a photo
Additional comments: Rick, Tim and I observed the bird for 20-30 minutes. It was agreed that at leasst two of us would write up a description of this bird and submit it eventhough the exact species is unknown.
the time of the sighting (January) is unusual for this genus in Utah.