Thursday, February 2, 2012

Flycatcher or Phoebe

I know, a Phoebe is a Flycatcher, but I've always been a sucker for alliteration.
Anyway, these two photos were taken in late summer at the McCormick ponds in east Phoenix. There were a pair of Vermillion Flycatchers, one male and one immature, flying among the palo verde trees looking for bugs. They mingled with Yellow-Rumped Warblers, a Black Phoebe, and a Say's Phoebe. None of them actually seemed to be enjoying each other's company, but that could've just been the competition for those yummy gnats.

It was only reviewing these pictures later on that I noticed how oddly similar an adult Say's Phoebe is to a juvenile Vermillion Flycatcher. Can you tell which is which?


12 comments:

  1. Having never seen either, my guess is the bottom photograph is the Says Phoebe?

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    1. Ah! Your birding instinct serves you well. In truth, the pointier and more defined silhouette of the Say's does make it stand out. But the reddish belly and white throat were very interesting similarities. Thanks for stopping by Karen.

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  2. Nice post Laurence, the ever tricky flycatchers always catch me.

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  3. Flycatchers often stump me Laurence! Very interesting similarities.

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    1. I guess birds with such erratic flight and feeding behaviors might as well have erratic molting too.

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  4. Very Nice Laurence. Very nice.

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  5. Those are remarkably similar Laurence! I am easily fooled by these little ones!

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    1. Tricky fellas. The photo is a bit disingenuous since the Say's is a far bit bigger than the Vermillion, but hey nothing a little cropping can't conceal!

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  6. They are pretty different in structure. The Vermilion is proportionally shorter-tailed and the throat is whiter.

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  7. The second photo appears to be the Say's Phoebe because of the tail is long relative to overall body length and the tail is black. Also, like you mentioned above regarding the color of the birds belly. Young Vermilion Flycatchers will have the white throat patch. That combined with the shorter bill in relation to head size than the Say's. Nice photos of both species! I had experience with both species last summer when I surveyed for Willow Flycatchers on the lower Colorado River.

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  8. Nice Post Laurence and yes I can, but having lived in Tucson and seen these species on a regular basis gives me an advantage! Cute vermilion in the top photo and adorable Says's in the bottom! Like you said, in real life the size difference would be apparent.

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