Central Park, NYC - Comment & Additional Photos of Presumed Hammond's Flycatcher
OBS: Robert DeCandido, PhD, Deborah Allen, m.ob. 

Since observing and photographing the Empid this past Sunday and Monday, I 
posted several photos on the Western Washington Birders Facebook Group with a 
request for comments. Rudyard Wallen and Kendall Van Zanten say it looks good 
for a hatch-year Hammond's Flycatcher. 

Here's a profile from Monday (Nov. 27) showing the primary extension:
https://www.photo.net/photo/18440378/Empidonax-Flycatcher-Probable-Hammond-s

And a close-up of the tail from Sunday (Nov. 26) showing the shape of the outer 
tail feathers (rectrices) which are tapered like those of a hatch-year bird, 
rather than truncate like those of an adult:

https://www.photo.net/photo/18440439/Empidonax-Flycatcher

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Excerpt from our newsletter today (Nov. 29):

The bird walk started uneventfully on Sunday November 26, and if it was not for 
a series of fortuitous occurrences, we never would have known to look for, or 
even have found, an odd little western flycatcher. The most important chance 
event that morning was meeting Linda LaBella in the area of the "Oven." (We had 
taken a different route than usual - our first fortuitous happening.) Linda 
mentioned in passing that she had just seen a small flycatcher not too far 
away, but was not sure what it was, and like many people, really did not want 
to get too bogged down into sorting out fine, often confusing details to make a 
guess as to its identity. We thanked Linda (and she deserves a great thanks!), 
and knowing that Deborah loves (loves) small, nondescript flycatchers, we 
hurried the group of about 20 people to the area where Linda had last seen it 
("the Riviera" along the lake just east of Bow Bridge). Unfortunately, all we 
could find were a couple of Tufted Titmice. 

Oh well...as we were about to trudge on, I decided to use the tape to see if I 
could call in the bird...so I played the interaction call of the Least 
Flycatcher. Almost immediately a grayish-green flycatcher appeared over us and 
gave us good looks. Deborah started photographing and quickly concluded that it 
was some sort of western species (and not any of the eastern ones), because of 
the tear-drop shaped eye-ring. Right about then, David Barrett appeared on 
scene - and the discussion on the bird began to drift on the direction of 
either (a) Pacific-slope Flycatcher or (b) Cordilleran Flycatcher because of 
plumage AND because one of these had appeared in the Ramble a year ago. We 
watched our flycatcher a bit more, and we were able to find it again when it 
relocated about 50 meters away some 10-15 minutes later. We again used a 
recorded call to bring it in. By this time we had put out the word via Twitter 
(Manhattan Bird Alert), and others were arriving - and photos were being sent 
from the site to those back in their homes throughout the city. The consensus 
was we had found a Hammond's Flycatcher...even rarer in our area than either of 
the other two flycatchers mentioned above. Deborah and I could not be sure yet 
- we did not have access to any reference books, and trying to judge the ID of 
a small, non-descript bird on the back of a camera is a recipe for disaster! 
The real bird would perch for a bit but also flick its wings quite a lot, and 
dart about...and become partially hidden too - so getting a good look at subtle 
characters was not easy. We were also leading a bird walk (and found the 
Wilson's Warbler again) - so we were trying to juggle lots of "stuff"...Finally 
at about 1:30pm we drove home and opened our books. Deborah processed her 
photos and I ran back and forth asking if the bird showed certain characters of 
a Hammond's. In one previous paper, the authors had made a big deal of looking 
for the dusky tip to the beak of a Hammond's. Our bird clearly did not have a 
dusky tip. We also were trying to evaluate how much yellow the bird had from 
the middle of the breast (the upper belly) to the upper chest...in different 
lighting conditions (and the yellow leaves reflecting light), the amount of 
yellow on the front of the bird varied. We wanted to see a range of Deborah's 
photos of a not moving bird on a computer screen where we could correct for the 
light. Meanwhile people on the internet (via text messages and Twitter) were 
demanding  that Deborah come up with an ID immediately, show more photos - and 
heck, it didn't even matter because the bird was obviously a Hammond's 
Flycatcher. (And by implication, Bob and Deborah must be idiots. To be fair, 
several others sent notes of congratulations.) Finally, finally by about 4pm, 
we were mostly convinced we had a Hammond's Flycatcher. 

Again a big thanks to Linda LaBella for alerting us to the presence of an odd 
flycatcher, and David Barrett and the Twitter alert he set up for Manhattan - 
we were able to get the word out so that many people were able to see the bird 
on Sun/Mon/Tue/Wednesday. 
--

Photos posted on Nov. 26:

Empidonax Flycatcher, Central Park, Sunday November 26, 2017:

https://www.photo.net/photo/18439570/Empidonax-Flycatcher

https://www.photo.net/photo/18439561/Empidonax-Flycatcher

https://www.photo.net/photo/18439563/Empidonax-Flycatcher

https://www.photo.net/photo/18439564/Empidonax-Flycatcher

https://www.photo.net/photo/18439569/Empidonax-Flycatcher

Deb Allen
www.birdingbob.com (free weekly newsletter available)

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