The Alder or Willow debate….(it could be Acadian?)

….will probably reign for ever more unless the bird is trapped. Could it even be Acadian? Information from the USA’s Cornell Lab of Ornithology states:

Alder Flycatcher is difficult to distinguish from the Willow Flycatcher by any feature other than voice.

Song is the only definitive way to tell them apart. However, measurements of crown color with a colorimeter, together with other measures of wing shape, bill and tail, may be able to distinguish birds in the hand that are not calling.

Willow and Alder flycatchers do not respond to playback of recordings of each other’s songs, even where their ranges overlap.

Willow Flycatcher has a thin white eyering which may be lacking. (The Nanjizal bird has a very obvious one)

The distribution/migration maps show Alder Flycatcher to migrate only on the eastern side of America to its wintering quarters in Nothern south America, whereas Willow, migrates south across the whole of central America to winter in central and southern America.

The photos below all show WILLOW Flycatcher. I have trawled through 100’s of photos of Willow and cant find many that show (a) as bold, bright wingbars as the Nanjizal bird and (b) as prominant an eyering as the Nanjizal bird? On the other hand all the literature states they can only be seperated on call.

Paul Freestone (c) Cornwall Birding 2008.

6 thoughts on “The Alder or Willow debate….(it could be Acadian?)

  1. Paul Mallett

    The bird looks remarkably like an Acadian Flycatcher to my (untrained) eye. (See the photo on Wikipedia, for example).

  2. Gary Lewis

    Looking at this bird today, the double wingbars are very prominent and the eyering is quite distinct – I would be in the Acadian camp.

  3. Paul Mallett

    Well, I’m happy to be told I’m wrong! And I’m also very happy for the person who found the bird in the first place, and for S. Rogers’ superb, artistic photo of the bird: excellent!
    One has to wonder how on earth did such a small bird get here? Surely it must be absolutely exhausted, and dare one suggest that it should be left alone to build up any strength it can? Though I can appreciate that the desire to “tick” it must be considerable, hundreds/thousands of people encroaching on it must surely put a deal on stress on it??
    But congratulations to the person who found the bird in the first place, and for recognising it as being something VERY out of the ordinary.

  4. admin Post author

    Paul, the bird was a good 100ft away from the crowd, over a field, large hedge etc and was never hassled by the large crowds who behaved impeccably. I have recieved an e-mail from a birder congratulating people on thier behaviour which i will publish shortly on the site. The bird was found by and trapped the next day, by Kester Wilson. Without his efforts we would still not know what the bird was exactly.

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