Empidonax flycatchers… you can’t live with them, you can’t build a complete life list without them. As countless as the stars above have been the brillant birders brought low by these humble homunculi, these tiny little iterations on an undistinguished theme. Such has become the fate of our friend Alberto Lopez, late of Puerto Rico but recently relocated to Ithaca, NY (just in time for fall too!) Alberto is an ace photographer; many of his images helped support our May 2009 Puerto Rico Month series, notably his shots of the stealthy Puerto Rican Screech-owl. You can see some of his superb images at his old blog or eagerly await his new one. To tide you over, he’s offered us one excellent image along with a plea for help:
I just moved from Puerto Rico to Ithaca… and as you might guess I am going mad birding every chance I get. Lots of new species for me, trying to learn their calls and fieldmarks wow! I feel like I’m starting all over again, I was already use to going birding without a field guide but now its a must! And ive been able to id almost everything but this little flycatcher. This photo was taken in Sapsucker Woods.
Alberto has his own thoughts about what species this bird is but alas cannot flesh out the sighting with any information about the bird’s vocalization or behavior. Do you dare try to identify this empid based on timing, geography, and the photo below? I invite any and all insights in our comments section but be warned: I have no freaking idea what flycatcher this is!
And for those of you who don’t know why birds like this are so maddening, allow me to shed some light on just what an Empidonax flycatcher is.