Mystery Flycatcher from Ecuador
Are these pictures of Empidonax flycatchers? This has been
identified as an Alder or Willow Flycatcher. All three photos are
of the same bird taken in a few minutes. Do you agree with the
On the basis of the response received from Frontiers of Field
Identification, I've changed the tentative identification.
Small-billed Elaenia Elania
Sacha Lodge, Ecuador 2001-06-26
S0 28.517 W76 28.529 Altitude 725 ft.
Canon Eos D30 + Cannon 300 f/2.8 APO 2:1 1/180-5.6 at 600 mm
© David Cahlander
Click for larger Image
The identifications received from the Fontiers
of Field Identification are:
- Mark Lockwood - firstname.lastname@example.org
I just looked at your photos and I think the bird is a Short-billed Elaenia. I am no
expert, but my first impression was Elaenia and these
austral migrants are in Ecuador in June. The
chances of a Traill's Flycatcher being in South America
in late June would have to be negligible.
- Chris Benesh - email@example.com
I am really no authority on Ecuador (having never birded
there on the mainland), but I have done a moderate amount
of tropical birding. I am also familiar with the
Alder/Willow group. When I saw your photos (which
are great by the way), I was struck by two things.
First, the proportions seems wrong for an Empidonax (e.g.,
head too small for body), but I was also struck by how
much it reminded me of an Elaenia. I do not know
Ecuador's elaenia at all, but a quick check of Ridgely
made me wonder if your bird was not a Small-billed Elaenia (E. parvirostris).
The bird is described as occurring in the region of Sacha
Lodge, and more closely resembles your bird. In the
first picture, it looks as though part of the concealed
white crest is visible and the bold eye-ring certainly
fits. Further, proportions and pattern of the wing
coverts and tertials is more like an elaenia to me.
Other the other hand, I could be totally offbase.
Anyway, thanks for sharing your pictures.
- Ken Rosenberg - firstname.lastname@example.org
The bird looks to me like Elaenia
parvirostris (small-billed Elaenia), which is an
austral migrant that would be expected in amazonian
Ecuador in June. It's a bird that has been
predicted to occur in the U.S., but obviously can be
easily overlooked. Please forward my comments to
the ID-Frontiers List -- they may want to confirm this
with someone from LSU, or Bret Whitney.
- Colby Neuman email@example.com
I don't have my Ecuador guide so I can't help you with
the identification of this bird other than the mystery
bird is definitely not a Willow/Alder Flycatcher.
I'm sorry I'm not more helpful with the actual
- John A. Gerwin firstname.lastname@example.org
I'm no expert here, but it just doesn't quite look like
the Alders and Willows we have here in NC. The underside
colors just don't match with my memory of those here,
which tend to be much grayer or whiter, and paler.
The secondary feather edgings don't seem right either,
nor the disjunctness of the wingbars. Anyway, that's my 2
cents. Whenever I'm "there" (South America) I
always think, by default, of Elaenia/Myiopagis! I'm
curious why it's not an Elaenia....?
- Christopher Witt - email@example.com
I looked at the flycatcher pics. I can't tell you
what it is. I CAN tell you that there's NO WAY it
is an Empidonax. The head is too small relative to
the body size. The middle picture shows an nearly
all dark lower mandible which rules out Alder/Willow.
I suggest it's some type of Elaenia.
- Josť Placer - firstname.lastname@example.org
Saw the photos of the mystery flycatcher and all I can
tell you is that Willow Flycatchers don't look anything
I worked with Willow Flycatchers during two summers in
central California so I'm very familiar with them.
The bird doesn't even look "too" Empidonax too
me, though I could be wrong.
But, playing it safe with one species, I'd say it's not a
- Paul Greenfield - email@example.com
I agree with the Small-billed
- Robert Ridgely - firstname.lastname@example.org
The bird in the photos is almost surely correctly
identified as Elaenia parvirostris (Small-b.
Elaenia). If it's not that, then it's some
other Elaenia sp., but I don't think so. Time of
year and site are perfect. The eye-ring shape is
wrong for either of those Empidonax (too round), and
perfect for the elaenia. Shape and posture are also
perfect, as is the hint of white in crown shown in
leftmost picture. Not to mention of course that
neither Empidonax would be expected in Amaz. Ecuador at
that time of year, though crazy things can and do of
course happen with migrant species.
Am astonished that John would souggest "Tropical
Pewee," which looks so very different - not to
mention the fact that it doesn't occur in Ecuador at all
(and even punensis -which I split from Tropical - occurs
only in the west).