This form is intended as a convenience in reporting observations of species on the Louisiana Bird Records Committee (LBRC) Review List. The LBRC recommends the use of this form or a similar format when submitting records for review (to assure that all pertinent information is accounted for). Attach additional pages as necessary. Please print or type. Attach xerox of field notes, drawings, photographs, or tape recordings, if available. Include all photos for more obscurely marked species. When completed, mail to Secretary, Louisiana Bird Records Committee, c/o Museum of Natural Science, 119 Foster Hall, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803-3216.

1. English and Scientific names: Cordilleran Flycatcher, Empidonax occidentalis

2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage):

1 adult

3. Locality: LOUISIANA: (parish) __Jefferson __________________________________________

Specific Locality: _Sureway Woods, Grand Isle ________________________________________________________

4. Date(s) when observed:

28 December 2010

5. Time(s) of day when observed:

1530-1615, in part

6. Reporting observer and address:

7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s):

Meribeth Huizinga

8. Other observers who independently identified the bird(s):


9. Light conditions (position of bird in relation to shade and to direction and amount of light):

Observed bird in shade and on exposed (unshaded) perch inside woods on clear afternoon

10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition):

11. Distance to bird(s):

As close as 8 m

12. Duration of observation:

Approx. 7 min

13. Habitat:

Cheniere forest remnant

14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation):

Foraging 90%, resting 5% (when photographed), and responding to playback 5% of observation time. Bird responded to playback of Pacific-slope Flycatcher song (Stokes Field Guide to Bird Songs, Western Region) by approaching to approx. 8 m of speaker (and approx. 7 m above ground) and giving Male Position Note vocalization (Lowther 2000. Birds of North America No. 556). Bird retreated from immediate area within 1 min of response. We then broadcast Cordilleran Flycatcher song (Stokes, Western Region), with no response, and then re-broadcast Pac-slope song, with no new response.


The bird’s response to Pacific-slope Flycatcher song led me to initially identify it as that species. Such evidence, however, is inadequate as support for identification to species given the following information. Johnson (1980. Univ. Calif. Publ. Zool. Vol. 112) found the two species to maintain exclusive territories in areas of overlap in northern California, suggesting that either/both species might likely respond to each other’s songs. Indeed, recent unpublished work shows that, in a broad contact zone in the interior Northwest, individuals respond to playback of both species’ songs (Andrew Rush, UC Berkeley, personal communication).

15. Description (include only what was actually seen, not what "should" have been seen; include if possible: total length/relative size compared to other familiar species, body bulk, shape, proportions, bill, eye, leg, and plumage characteristics. Stress features that separate it from similar species):

Immediately recognized as a “Western” Flycatcher (i.e., either Pacific-slope or Cordilleran) by combination of (1) greenish-olive (upperparts) and yellowish (underparts) plumage coloration, (2) incomplete (above eye), teardrop-shaped eye ring, (3) all-yellow mandible, and (4) short(ish) primary projection.

16. Voice:

Bird gave “Male Position Note” while responding to playback of Pacific-slope Flycatcher song. Meribeth Huizinga recorded the vocalization on Flip video camera, and subsequently converted the audio to wav format (file attached). Sound spectrogram of vocalization is consistent with Cordilleran Flycatcher, and not Pacific-slope Flycatcher (see comparison of our bird’s Male Position Note with multiple Pacific-slope and Cordilleran flycatcher Male Position Notes on attached pdf). Pacific-slope’s Male Position Note is an up-slurred “pe-WEAP,” which is illustrated by a distinct “bent-paperclip” or ladle shape in a sound spectrogram (Lowther 2000). Although similar in pitch, Cordilleran’s Male Position Note is a distinctly two-parted “pit-PEET,” which is illustrated by two distinct notes in a sound spectrogram (and thus lacks the bent-paperclip or ladle shape of Pacific-slope; Lowther 2000).


A “Western” type Flycatcher giving a 2-part Male Position Note is a Cordilleran. From Lowther (2000): “Frequent call given by male, so-called Position Note, differs sharply between species over most of range. Some Cordilleran Flycatchers from interior Northwest … may give up to three types of calls: 2-parted call, steeply rising single note, and sinusoidal or ladle-shaped notes, the latter typical of Pacific-slope Flycatcher and often incorrectly interpreted as only given by that species. So far as known, however, Pacific-slope Flycatchers never give a 2-parted call typical of Cordilleran Flycatcher. … (Pacific-slope type call may be given by either species, whereas 2-parted call only given by Cordilleran Flycatcher).”


17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation):

Pacific-slope Flycatcher eliminated by vocal differences (with Cordilleran Flycatcher) described above. Yellow-bellied Flycatcher similar in plumage and mandible coloration and primary projection, but not eye ring shape (or voice).

18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?):

Photos by Robert C. Dobbs; audio recording (converted from video) by Meribeth Huizinga.

19. Previous experience with this species:

Extensive experience with Cordilleran Flycatcher, having worked for many years (1994-present) on western montane breeding birds, including Cordilleran Flycatcher, in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah. Considerable experience with breeding Pacific-slope Flycatchers during numerous west coast birding trips. Such experience, however, simply allowed me to recognize immediately the Grand Isle bird as a “Western” Flycatcher, and thus select Pacific-slope and Cordilleran flycatcher song for playback.

20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):

a. at time of observation:

b. after observation:

Lowther 2000, Johnson 1980, Sibley Guide to Birds

21. This description is written from: _____ notes made during the observation (_____notes attached?);_____notes made after the observation (date:_____); _____memory.

22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain:

I am confident in this identification given (1) observation/recording of bird giving 2-part Male Position Note of Cordilleran Flycatcher and (2) evidence that range of variation in Pacific-slope Flycatcher Male Position Note does not include a similar 2-part call. 

23. Signature of reporter: ___Robert C. Dobbs __

__________________Date:_7 March 2011_Time:_1605 MST

24. May the LBRC have permission to display this report or
portions of this report on its webite? __Yes______________________

If yes, may we include your name with the report? ___Yes_______________

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