Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sorry for the lack of blog-action lately!

Hi all,

I must apologize for the lack of writing lately. I have been extremely busy with working and rarity chasing to the point of absolute exhaustion. Time to rest? No TIME TO DRIVE TO THE YUKON AND BACK DOWN INTO BC (HAINES TRIANGLE) NEAR THE ALASKA BORDER. Yes perhaps I am crazy, but since I just drove to Tofino and back (and didn't see that mega-bird Bristle-thighed Curlew) I figure I may as well go and get some "easy" breeders right? Enough of these unreliable things, I need a bird on territory to get me out of this slump. Oh and did I mention I drove from Golden to Vancouver for a Costa's Hummingbird, missed it, then drove back to Revelstoke to work the next morning!!! In my delirious drive home I came up with this feeble joke: (read in an Italian accent)-- "Costa's Hummingbird? More like- 'a COST-A-LOT OF a-MONEY!'" Hilarious at the time, not so much as I type.

Anyways, perhaps things are looking up as I just saw a SAGE THRASHER singing at White Lake! Finally!!! If only the Black-necked Stilts would come out of hiding in the same way.

Time to drive to Prince George though, I will give a full update in a couple weeks. Hang in there!


  1. You are a crazy man! Sounds like you really go to the ends of the earth for a bird :)

    As a bird guy, do you think it possible, or highly unlikely that I would see an Alder Flycatcher on the Sunshine Coast? Habitat leans toward the bird being a Willow Flycatcher but I didn't hear the song of a Willow while listening.

  2. Hi dragonspeed,

    Sorry for the late reply, I have been birding up in northern BC and the Yukon. Update soon!

    In answer to your question I am not aware of any records of Alder Flycatcher on the Sunshine Coast so it would be quite a find. What exactly made you think it was an Alder?

    Was it calling at all? Without voice it is very difficult to separate these two species unless you have extensive experience with them in the hand and in the field (I assume you wouldn't be asking me though if this was the case?).


  3. Hi Russ, I know you're busy and about... Boy it sounds exhausting but fun!!!

    It was singing and I can't specifically recall the song, but when I listen to the songs as recorded by cornell it DOESN'T sound like that.

    Here is a pic of the little critter: http://www.fotothing.com/DragonSpeed/photo/e57fcefe6632d9a3d35690157e543743/

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my query! Keep it up!


  4. Thanks for sending the pic Brian,

    It's definitely one of the "Traill's"-type flycatchers and in my opinion it looks like a Willow Flycatcher. Note the pale brown tones in the face and back, the bland/buff-coloured wingbars and indistinct eye-ring. "Classic" Alder Flycatchers are more greenish in overall colouring and have sharper or more crisper features-- i.e. The eye-ring is more noticeable and bright, the wingbars appear bright and lemon-white, the white throat usually stands out a bit, and the crown feathers often have noticeably dark centers to them. When dealing with an ID problem such as this, one must ask first "why is it NOT the most-likely species." Now of course your ID is based on vocalizations not visual which is perhaps the best way. You have said that the bird sounded unlike the normal willow fly recordings you have heard but you didn't say that "it sounds like an alder." If you can remember what it sounded like that might be helpful. In addition to the usual "fitz-bew" or "rip-badeer," Willows also have a variety of other call and song variations including a sharp "wee-diew." Alder's sound more like "phoebio" or "rebreer." Getting confused yet? Anyways, if you heard the call note that could help too-- Willows have a soft "wiet" call like that of a Dusky or Gray Flycatcher, while Alder have a sharper "pit!" call.

    Hope this helps,


  5. Yikes. OK... so it's a Willow... Damn, I was so hoping for the Alder :)

    Thanks so much for going into the detailed description. Apparently I'm going to have to bring a mic along the next time I go out :)

    Good luck on the quest! Keep on Birdin'!

  6. No worries Brain, thanks for bringing it up. The thing to remember is, Alder Flycatcher is very rare on the coast (and possibly unrecorded for the Sunshine Coast), so it is especially important to establish why it is not a more common species. These flycatchers are very difficult of course, so the more we watch and listen, the better we get at picking out that "different" one in the future.