Thursday, March 2, 2017

Flycatcher fest

Flycatchers might be the defining bird of our neotropics.  My understanding is they're found only in the New World and include the most number of species of any family.  So maybe it wasn't terribly surprising that on our first teak farm walk we found a bunch of little ones right next to each other.

First up Fork-tailed.  While some of these are among the harder ID problems out there this one can be confused with only 3 birds, Scissor-tailed, escaped Whydahs, and birds with garbage trailing from their legs.
 This one has no garbage trailing from its legs.  I guess that means it's a Fork-tail.

I have one bad pic of the next 2 birds in the same frame as the Forktail that I didn't include.  Here's a medium sized flycatcher with a yellow-belly and a titmouse-like crest.
 It's a Yellow-bellied Elaenia.  Elaenia seems to be a catch-all description of a bunch of birds.  Some of the sub-groups are extremely difficult to separate.  The confusion species for this one is Lesser Elaenia whose belly is less yellow and whose crest is less impressive (it also stops in central Panama).

One of the kiskadee class...
It's medium sized, smaller than Kiskadee or Boat-billed.  You can get a sense of the rusty flight feathers of this Rusty-margined Flycatcher, but they're not super obvious.  It's song, a weak insipid weeeeahh, is a pretty common one in Panama and worth learning.

This is a harder one (2 pics)

With the suggestion of a weird-shaped short but slightly down-drooped bill and a weak crest, this bird is Southern Beardless Tyrannulet.  Less seems to be the operative description of this bird, less down-drooped than a Bentbill, less crested than Yellow-bellied Eleania, less facial patterning than a Sooty-headed Tyrannulet, etc.

Finally another subtle species whose high thin "few-breeooh" is another song worth learning.
 Very short stubby bill, somewhat generic grayish flycatcher face, has wingbars (just barely visible in this pic), this little bird is Yellow-crowned Tyrannulet.  Tyrannulet is an even worse catch-all name for small generally very short-billed flycatchers that don't seem all that related to each other.  Of course the alternative is to make the genus name the common name.  And while that may make it easier to understand the relationships between some of the birds it definitely won't make it easy to roll the name of a somewhat unfamiliar bird off your tongue in the field as anyone looking at a bush-tanager, errrrrrr, chlorospingus will tell you.  And there's more than one bush-tanager, errrrrr, chlorospingus in Ecuador.  Better get practicing people, better get practicing...

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