Photo courtesy Charles Martinez
This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the Hammond’s flycatcher.
Birds in the group known as flycatchers typically feed by flying out from a perch in a short burst to catch an insect in midair, returning to the perch to eat it. These birds are agile in flight, able to make quick, acrobatic turns. As a verb, flycatching describes this feeding style when it is employed by any bird species.
Hammond’s flycatchers shift their foraging height as the breeding season progresses. Early on, they primarily feed either from high in the canopy or from leaf surfaces close to the ground. Later in the season, they are more commonly found perched on lower levels of the tree.
This flycatcher breeds in western forests from Colorado north to Alaska. Here they are found in cool, coniferous forests, primarily those with Douglas fir and spruce mixed with aspens. This is the habitat where they were found raising young on Jackson Mountain during this season’s Forest Bird Monitoring Project conducted by members of the Weminuche Audubon Society. This study compares bird species found in areas of the forest which have undergone different fire prevention treatments.
These small songbirds are colored greenish-olive above and have a yellow cast on the belly. They display a distinct white eye ring and two white wing bars on their dark wings.
Members of the empidonax genus of flycatchers, to which the Hammond’s belongs, are very similar in appearance and best identified by differences in song. Recent advances in bird identification apps, which are able to record birdsong and match it to a species, make them a useful tool in distinguishing these tricky flycatcher species.
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