Dusky Flycatcher In Morgan County, Utah

/, Dusky Flycatchers, Little Dutch Hollow, Morgan County, Utah/Dusky Flycatcher In Morgan County, Utah

Before I found the handsome male Baltimore Oriole rarity two days ago I photographed other birds in the clump of chokecherry and serviceberry bushes in Morgan County, Utah.

Immature Dusky Flycatcher in the Wasatch Mountains, Morgan County, UtahImmature Dusky Flycatcher in the Wasatch Mountains – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

One of the birds was this tiny flycatcher that I observed and photographed perched, catching a small moth and a caterpillar and scrambling around on the shoulder of the gravel road. It was so close to me and yet appeared so tiny that I thought it might be a Least Flycatcher which would be unusual for Utah and is still on the review list for the state.

It had short primary wing projections, a complete white eye ring and a pale lower mandible, my gut said Least but I didn’t want to report it if it wasn’t a Least Flycatcher. After the Baltimore Oriole flew in my thoughts about this empid faded away until Billy Fenimore and I talked on the phone about the oriole as I made my way back down from the mountains that morning.

Immature Dusky Flycatcher, Morgan County, UtahImmature Dusky Flycatcher – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Empid ID can be very frustrating and I admit that I am usually over my head when it comes to identifying them so I asked my friend Mark Stackhouse for help with the ID on this bird. Mark has vast experience with the birds in Utah and when he visits here from his home in San Blas, Mexico he still guides tours in the state. I sent Mark several images and he ID’d it as a Dusky Flycatcher and because of the yellow lower mandible, probably a young bird.

I sincerely believe in giving credit where it is due so thank you Mark for the help with this ID. I wouldn’t have been able to come up with the ID by myself. I might still be pulling my hair out trying to figure out what empid this is. Gracias.

To my readers, fellow bird photographers and birding friends, if you ever find yourself in the San Blas area of Mexico and you want to see the amazing birds in the area Mark is the person to contact. More information at West Wings Birding Tours. Some day I hope I can join Mark and enjoy the birds that he sees in Mexico.

Immature Dusky Flycatcher with a tiny caterpillar, Morgan County, UtahImmature Dusky Flycatcher with a tiny caterpillar – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 800, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

My images of this immature Dusky Flycatcher, to my eye, show the effects of what happens when I photograph in heavy smoke because I can detect an odd yellowish color shift in the photos, the flycatcher is actually grayer than it appears in these images. I could have worked on them in post processing to reduce that effect but I decided instead to mention the smoke because it is how the bird appeared under the conditions I photographed it in.

Anyway, I am glad I didn’t rush to report a Least Flycatcher along with the Baltimore Oriole when this little empid is actually a Dusky Flycatcher and a photographic lifer for me.

Life is good.


Note: I tried to relocate the Baltimore Oriole yesterday morning and dipped on it, it might have been what is called a “One Day Wonder” which in the birding world means it is seen one day and it isn’t seen again.


  1. Pepe Forte August 27, 2018 at 11:58 am

    Spellbinding and beautiful. I love everything about these images. Thanks Mia.

  2. Elephants Child August 25, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    What a charmer. As I said on Ron’s post this morning, my identification often stops as ‘feathered enchantment’. Which is a very larger group.

  3. April Olson August 25, 2018 at 11:14 am

    I love these photos, such an adorable little bird. Many bird species hold onto the lighter gape into juvenile stage, its one way I tend to ID as juvies in a species.

  4. Marty K August 25, 2018 at 8:51 am

    Congrats on a lifer! Even if the Oriole is a one day wonder, that was a heckuva “one day!” 😃

  5. Ian Holland August 25, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Great photo, smoke or not!

  6. Bob mcpherson August 25, 2018 at 7:13 am

    Cool birding Mia

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