Nutting's Flycatcher...from way back on 23 Sept, 2008?

After being forgotten for several months, I dug out some video and pictures of a suspicious Myiarchus flycatcher that Jake Mohlmann and I documented on 23 September 2008 in the Bill Williams NWR. After showing the video and photos to Chris Benesh and Dave Stejskal (and subsequently, Gavin Bieber and Rich Hoyer), we were finally able to convince ourselves that indeed we had documented a NUTTING'S FLYCATCHER! As far as we can tell, if accepted by the Arizona Bird Committee, this will constitute the 4th or 5th U.S. record.

A detailed discussion of the ID and the story of how we forgot to review this documentation for 2.5 months will follow shortly....but for now here is a brief video with the distinctive call note and a few photos showing the structure, underparts color, and undertail color.

The bird was impossible to photograph without some amount of sticks and leaves in the way! Nutting's Flycatcher (Myiarchus nuttingi) has a smaller bill, browner face, and slightly different undertail pattern than Brown-crested Flycatcher (M. tyrannulus). Nutting's is best told from Ash-throated Flycatcher (M. cinerascens) by voice, so fortunately we obtained some video with audio that helps make this distinction. Dusky-capped Flycatcher (M. tuberculifer) also has a small bill, but much less rufous in the tail and a very distinctively different, plaintive call-note.

NOTE OF CAUTION: Since we had to run a mile round-trip through sand back to the car to get my camera, the bird was no longer in view when we returned. In order to bring the bird into view for documentation, we used a very judicious amount of playback. In this video, the ONLY note made by the bird itself is the "wheeek!" note given when the bird looks directly at the camera and opens its mouth. The rest of the 'calls' are actually from a CD recording.

(The full video is better quality than this, but a significant reduction in quality was needed to upload it to this blog.)

This species can be very difficult to separate from other Myiarchus flycatchers, and Ash-throated Flycatcher is a rare winter resident in Arizona. If by some odd chance the bird is still around, it will take a great deal of caution to solidly identify it again.

Anyway, just wanted to get the information out there now that we've had some help confirming it!

John Yerger
Senior Guide, Adventure Birding Co.

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