Friday, October 9, 2015

Nature Guide: Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Seeing something new when you're out for a walk in nature makes the time seem even more rewarding. Yesterday we came upon a flock of small birds that neither of us had seen before, though Jon was fairly certain it was some kind of flycatcher. So I got a couple of quick shots of these fast-moving little birds, and it was back to the field guides for our Nature Guide Jon Latimer. Here's his report.

"The behavior of this small bird (perhaps 5 inches long) made it immediately clear that it was a flycatcher. They generally station themselves on a branch and fly out to catch insects flying by. This one was part of a group of at least a half dozen that must be migrating south for the winter and had stopped at Mountain Lakes Preserve for a quick meal. Identifying its species is a more difficult challenge.

"This flycatcher is part of a genus of five very similar species in eastern North America known as Empidonax flycatchers. They are notoriously difficult to tell apart. They all have olive upper parts and pale throats and bellies, with whitish eye-rings and wing bars. Even expert birders often rely on voice, behavior, habitat or range to make an identification. We think this is a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, but we are eager to hear from anyone with a different opinion."