Least Flycatcher?Least Flycatcher? – Nikon D300, f8, 1/400, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I was going to do a post today on the wrens that were using the same nesting tree as the Williamson’s Sapsuckers that I posted yesterday but after culling 3290 images I was flat worn out, I’ll do that post tomorrow hopefully.

Today I am posting what I believe to be a Least Flycatcher that was perched in an evergreen along a road in Idaho.  I might be mistaken on the ID so any help would be appreciated. I don’t feel bad about not being certain of the ID because even experts have a hard time with Empids. I can rule out several Empids because of their geographic ranges but that leaves Least, Hammond’s, Dusky, Gray, Cordilleran and Pacific-slope Flycatchers.

I think I can rule out Willow because they are brownish and have a weak eyering and my bird has a strong eyering. I think I can rule out Hammond’s because they have a long primary projection (wing tip length)  and my empid seems to have a short primary projection. I’ve photographed Gray Flycatchers and this bird was smaller plus it didn’t wag its tail up and down like Gray Flycatchers do. Dusky Flycatchers have low contrast edges on their wing feathers and my bird has contrasting dark tertials and coverts with light edges. Pacific-slope Flycatchers are rare in the area that I photographed this bird so I believe I can rule it out.

So that leaves Cordilleran and Least Flycatchers. Sibley’s Guide to birds shows the Cordilleran as being brownish-olive overall with the brownest coloration on the rump while my bird is mostly gray with olive on its back which is how Sibley describes the Least Flycatcher.

Whether I am right or wrong with my ID on this empid I know that I am not alone in the Empid ID Enigma!

Addendum: I was asked about the range map for Least Flycatchers being in Idaho, I’m attaching a screen shot of a map my friend Terry did for Least Flycatchers that shows the range extending just into the tip of Clark County, Idaho which is where I photographed this bird just a few miles south of the Montana state line. Terry’s full range map can be seen here.



PS, I am pretty sure I heard the “chewbek” call of the Least Flycatcher while photographing other subjects near this bird.