Nebraska Ornithologists' Union


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Dinsmore & Silcock, "First Confirmed Records of Dusky Flycatcher for Nebraska," from Nebraska Bird Review (March 2001) 69(1).


Copyright 2001, Nebraska Ornithologists' Union. Used by permission.


Prior to the fall of 2000, there were no accepted records of Dusky Flycatcher for Nebraska. With the exception of a single sight record by Silcock (17 May 1992) judged "Hypothetical" by the Nebraska Ornithologists' Union Records Committee, this species had been unreported in Nebraska. Dusky Flycatchers breed locally in the Black Hills of South Dakota (Peterson 1990) and were presumed to occur in western Nebraska. Here, we report the capture of three Dusky Flycatchers in Kimball County and three additional sight records from western Nebraska.

On 31 August 2000, we were mist netting below the dam of Oliver Reservoir in Kimball County. At 10:05 a.m., we captured an Empidonax that we suspected was a Dusky Flycatcher. We returned to the car to measure and photograph the bird before releasing it at 10:45 a.m. The bird was clearly an Empidonax flycatcher on the basis of the small size, wing bars, eyering, and bill shape. The bill was rather long with a moderately broad base and a strong triangular shape (the sides of the bill were not convex). The underbill was bright orange at the base with the proximal one half being dark-colored. The color distinction on the underbill was not sharp, but was instead rather gradual. There were prominent whiskers (at least 1 cm in length) at the base of the bill. The head was dark gray, a bit darker on the crown. The bird had a prominent white eye ring that broadened slightly behind the eye (a "teardrop" shape). The throat was paler and contrasted with the darker olive-gray upper breast. The mantle was olive and distinctly contrasted with the grayer head. The wings were dark with two clear white/buff wingbars. The rectrices were dark olive. The legs were black. The bird did not vocalize. After photographing the bird, we took a series of measurements suggested by Pyle (1997) to confirm our identification (see Table 1). The primary projection was short, and we also noted that p4 and pl0 were roughly the same length. On the basis of moderate feather wear, ossified skull, underbill coloration, and plumage, we concluded the bird was an adult Dusky Flycatcher. Furthermore, on the basis of the relatively short (for a Dusky Flycatcher) measures for wing and tail lengths, we concluded the bird was probably a female, but this conclusion is by no means solid.