Hammond’s Flycatcher

September 18th, 2019: A nice morning at my local patch

I’m working a few part-time jobs right now, so I can occasionally sneak out on a Wednesday morning for an hour or two. I did that today at Queen Elizabeth Park. From a bird’s perspective, it’s a big green hill in the middle of a bunch of concrete. So it’s a great place to find passerines during migration.

Reflections in a lower pond at QE Park
Reflections in a lower pond at QE Park

There was quite a lot of activity this morning and I saw or heard lots of great birds! …even though I didn’t get there until after 9AM (and I call myself a birder). It was particularly nice to encounter numerous mixed passerine flocks. There were Townsend’s Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler (both lutescens and Gray-headed subspecies), and Yellow-rumped Warbler in these groups.

Orange-crowned Warbler; lutescens subspecies
Orange-crowned Warbler; lutescens subspecies

The park was also hopping with Anna’s Hummingbirds doing displays, including a few 1st-years. They mate year-round here now and the 1st-years seem to be anxious to get in on the action.

First-year male Anna's Hummingbird at QE Park
First-year male Anna’s Hummingbird at QE Park

The best bird of this visit was a 1st-year Hammond’s Flycatcher. I hadn’t even seen one yet this year since I wasn’t here in the spring and this particular empidonax species only shows up in Vancouver during migration. This particular bird was totally silent, but I was looking for migrating empids in a lower pond I don’t always go to since it’s sheltered from the wind. Sure enough, it was happily hawking insects from a few different perches.

First-year Hammond's Flycatcher at QE Park
First-year Hammond’s Flycatcher at QE Park

In the photo above you can see make out elements of the typical shape of Hammond’s Flycatcher: the squarish head, longer primary projection than other empids, and conspicuous eye ring. The nice thing about young Hammond’s Flycatchers in particular is that they typically have a clean gray head that contrasts strongly with a yellowy wash on the breast and sides. Even if the shadow of the photo above, this contrast is nice and clear.

Lower pond at QE Park
Lower pond at QE Park

The usual suspects rounded out the day (eBird list). I was particularly pleased to see a nice mix of Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush and to hear a Purple Finch singing across the park (not a bird I frequently observe at QE Park).

Hermit Thrush at QE Park
Hermit Thrush at QE Park

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Love the photo of the warbler!

    1. Thanks, Laura! I was happy that you can actually see the orange on that particular Orange-crowned Warbler.

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