Verification of Unusual Sight Record
For Utah

Rec. # 2014-0

Common name:

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Scientific name: Empidonax flaviventris
Date: 8-27-2014
Time: 1pm
Length of time observed: 10 minutes
Number: 1
Age: HY?
Sex: ?
Location: Garr Ranch, Antelope Island
County: Davis
Elevation: 4200ft
Distance to bird: 3m
Optical equipment: Nikon 10x50 Binoculars
Weather: Mostly sunny,warm-75F
Light Conditions: Excellent
Description:        Size of bird: Small passerine-5.5in
(Description:)       Basic Shape: Small erect Tyrant Flycatcher
(Description:)  Overall Pattern: Very yellowish overall
(Description:)            Bill Type: Short,broad based,bi-colored
Field Marks and
Identifying Characteristics:
Small Empidonax Flycatcher. Very yellowish throat and breast, short but broad based bi-colored bill, round head with no crest, round complete eyering. Dark wings and tertials with contrasting buff edges. Fairly long primary projection.
(see photos)
Song or call & method of delivery: None heard
Behavior: Perched low in a small tree, most of the time we watched it was preening, but did do some sallying,returning to a different perch, then went high up into the top of tall tree and we lost it.
Habitat: Ranch house on the shore of the Great Salt Lake, with many cultivated planted trees and a spring. Know migrant trap.
Similar species and how
were they eliminated:
We all know Empids are very challenging birds to ID, however because I have several species on my BBS routes, I've been involved in greater study of them over the past few years trying to get the most accurate data possible. Migrants are even more challenging because we lose one of the easiest ways to ID them, their songs. Never the less if one is familiar enough with them I do believe it is possible to ID most migrant Empids, as long as you get a good look at the bird. In this case we got great looks as the bird was very preoccupied with preening at very close range. But lets go over all the other expected species and compare them with the bird in question

Willow Flycatcher-Quickly and easily eliminated as a possibility because of the prominent eyering. Also Willows are larger, have a whitish throat,longer bill and duller overall color.

Gray Flycatcher-Quickly and easily eliminated as a possibility because of the yellowish color, Grays are very dull overall, also their bill is longer, and primary projection shorter.

Dusky Flycatcher-These can be rather yellowish, but generally have a grayish throat. Also their bill, although usually orange at the base of the lower mandible, is usually dark at the tip,unlike this bird. Also their primary projection is shorter.

Hammond's Flycatcher-Often very yellowish on the belly,with a greenish back, and longer primary projections, but usually have a grayish throat,and a tiny mostly dark bill,unlike this bird.

Least Flycatcher-This species has become fairly common the past few years in Utah, and I'm now rather familiar with it. It has a similar shaped eyering and bill length/color, but much duller colored plumage,especially having a contrasting white throat unlike this bird. Also their Primary Projection much shorter.

"Western" Flycatcher(Cordilleran/Pacific-slope)-This is probably the most difficult bird to eliminate as a possibility, however I am very familiar with Cordilleran,as they are the most abundant species on my BBS routes, and this bird lacked many characteristics of that species. Specifically, the head was very round with no hint of a crest at any angle or behavior, unlike a COFL. The bill was very short and broad based, unlike the longer narrower based bill of a COFL, The eyering was complete, unlike a COFL which is usually lacking on the top, and very round,unlike the almond shaped eyering of a COFL, plus it lacked the long extension at the rear of the eyering,like a COFL. Also the back of the wings and tertials was very blackish,with contrasting buffy edges,unlike the duller back of a COFL. Overall this bird just lacked the GISS of a COFL.

Acadian Flycather-This is another Eastern species that would be very out of range here(no state record I'm aware of), but should be ruled out as well. I am unfamiliar with this species, but from what I gather from the guide books, it is larger, with a longer bill, and much paler below than this bird, and has a longer primary projection.

Previous experience with
this & similar species:
Yes, saw one at the same location last year. The UBRC did not accept that record, for reasons not communicated to me.
References consulted: 'The Sibley Guide to Birds'D.A. Sibley 2014. 'Yellow-bellied and "Western" Flycatchers' M.Heindel,P. Pyle(article)Birders
Journal-Vol.8 No.2 April-May 1999
Description from: From photo(s) taken at the time of the sighting
Observer: Bryant Olsen
Observer's address: 688 East 700 South #105, SLC, UT 84102
Observer's e-mail address: **
Other observers who independently identified this bird: Matt Pendleton
Date prepared: 09-02-2014
Additional material: Photos