Gray Flycatcher at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge

Gray Flycatcher eating a DamselflyGray Flycatcher eating a Damselfly – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not a set up

These Gray Flycatcher images were taken in August of 2009 from the auto tour route at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge in northern Utah. Gray Flycatchers are generally found in sagebrush and arid busy habitats so it was a real treat to see this one in the marshy habitat of the refuge.

The Gray Flycatcher moved quickly and it was a challenge to keep track of it let alone get decent images of it as it snatched insects out of the air. In this image the wings of a damselfly can be seen on the far side of its bill and on the near side of the bill the tail of the damselfly is hanging down from the back of the bill.

Gray Flycatcher on a twigGray Flycatcher on a twig – Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light, not a set up

The Gray Flycatcher dispatched the damselfly very quickly and stayed on the twig for just a few moments before it flew away again. It was a delight to have the golden tones of the phragmites in the distance which created a lovely background.

I haven’t seen another Gray Flycatcher at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge since the time I photographed this one so maybe it was just migrating through. They are wonderful subjects though and I hope to locate more of them.


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Mia, fantastic photos of an elusive Empid! These guys are not only challenging to find and photograph, but then you have to figure out which one it could be. Very nice work on all counts!

  2. Gorgeous photos of this Gray Flycatcher Mia. Those pesky Empidonax are so hard to ID. My guide says this species, unlike the others, “has a habit of first waging its tail downward like a Phoebe, then bringing it back up (all other empids flick tail upward).”

  3. Great Images Mia! A Gray Flycatcher at Bear River is a great find! I just want you to know that these photos made my morning.

  4. I have never heard of the Gray Flycatcher. Lovely shots, Mia!

  5. Wonderful portraits of this little bird,,,love the gray, weathered perch, complements so well the colors of the bird…so crisp I could almost post the rictals!

  6. Great Photos/ Amazing Detail

  7. Stellar images as always!

  8. Handsome bird, nice perch, great light and background. I am very fond of all flycatchers-hope to see this species some day!

  9. Beautiful little bird, well taken Mia.

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