LOUISIANA BIRD RECORDS COMMITTEE REPORT FORM
1. English and Scientific names: Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
2. Number of individuals, sexes, ages, general plumage (e.g., 2 in alternate plumage): 1, age and sex unknown
3. Locality: LOUISIANA: (parish) Caddo
Specific Locality: Private property edging Cross Lake just South of the West/South dead end of Lakewood Dr.
4. Date(s) when observed:
5. Time(s) of day when observed: 11/21= ~2:45-3 p.m. 69 degrees, 11/23= On and off from ~3;30-4:30 p.m.59 degrees. 11/24= missed, 54 degrees, but re-found and photoed Ash-throated. 11/25= missed, 55 degrees, 12/01= First heard at ~1005, seen by Jay at 1020, heard again at ~1040, 68 degrees. 12/02= missed, 68 degrees 12/15- Observed from 1140 to 12:15 p.m., 72 degrees 12/24= observed approx between 8 and 10 a.m., 41-50 degrees. 12/30= Heard several times at around 11:10, but not seen during walk between 10:00 and noon, 36-38 degrees.
6. Reporting observer and address: Terry Davis. 2327 Walnut, Apt C, Bossier City, La.
7. Other observers accompanying reporter who also identified the bird(s): 11/21= Charlie Lyon, 11/23= Charlie Lyon and Hubert Hervey, 12/01= Jay Huner 12/15= Ronnie Maum. 12/24= Charlie Lyon, Larry Raymond, Jim Ingold, Mac Hardy, Clyde Massey, Marty Guidry and Jonathan Carpenter. 12/30= Ronnie Maum, Dave Patton, Mac Myers.
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): 11/21= The bird was unknowingly photographed in good afternoon light with the light behind us, although most of the photos are shaded by limbs or out of focus/blurry, etc. 11/23= Good amount of video was taken at close range under brigh overcast conditions. 12/01= Briefly heard. Jay saw the bird in good light to our Southwest around 10:20. 12/15= Bird observed to South and West, mostly perching low with sun overhead, alternating briefly cloudy and sunny- but mostly in rather good light and angle. 12/24= Observed during sunny weather and at a good sun angle from open and exposed in fairly open canopy situations, to well-concealed within closed canopy. 12/30= heard only
10. Optical equipment (type, power, condition): Brunton Eterna 11 x 45 binoculars in worn aesthetic but good optical condition used during personal viewing
11. Distance to bird(s): From 10' up to 100+ feet on different dates.
12. Duration of observation: 11/21/12= For a few minutes while photographing. The Ash-throated was observed for a longer period just prior to that. 11/23= Off and on for 30+ minutes. 12/01= A few calls heard off and on for ~40 minutes, brief view by Jay, 12/15= For 35 minutes on and off, much of that with bird rather closely or somewhat in view while we observed and Ronnie photoed. 12/24= On and off for nearly two hours. The bird was first heard shortly after 0700, then not heard for quite some time. It was heard again shortly before 0800, then observed around 0800, from then until we left at around 1000. 12/30=Heard only briefly slightly over mid-way between 10 and noon during the survey.
13. Habitat: Observed in baldcypress and on dead outer branches of vine-covered shrubbery forming dense thickets near water's edge. This is backed by slightly more open hackberry/mix woods with grassy understory, scattered clups of small-leaved Ligustrum (L sinensis- privet) and numerous downed trees or branches. On 12/30, the bird was heard-only, approximately 100 yards N of where it was viewed on previous occasions. This area is rather thick with large, bushy-based Eastern red cedars and much fewer deciduous trees. There is a faitly profuse understory of wiry grasses. The area also has fewer dead or downed trees or branches/brushpiles on the ground, except along the edges near the main road.
14. Behavior of bird / circumstances of observation (flying, feeding, resting; include and stress habits used in identification; relate events surrounding observation): On the afternoon of 11/21/12, we re-found a definite Ash-throated Flycatcher which was perched in the same baldcypress in which the Dusky-capped was unknowingly photographed moments afterward. We observed from close range, noting it's overall noticeably larger size in comparison to E Phoebe close by, the pale-pinkish-based and comparatively stocky bill and diffuse dark line that extended well across the tip of the rufous tail. We also heard it plainly between short breaks of E Sreech-Owl and Ash-throated Playback giving the distinct ATFL short, soft "prrt" or "bic" calls and head-bobbing a few times in response to ESOW and ATFL playback. We observed it for several minutes before getting an infrequently-used camera out to try for photos. I spent some time fiddling with the camera and did not look again with bins, except briefly at the bird that was present when we looked back up, to relocate it when it moved as I photoed. Charlie was making some adjustments in the boat, occasionally looking back up to help relocate, as I photoed the bird. We immediately left once a few photos taken were briefly looked at, thinking we'd had about as good as we could get. Later, we uploaded and looked briefly at the pics on the computer but were in a hurry, due to the late time, to look once again at what we'd obtained of the Pacific Loon. We noticed that the bill of the flycatcher looked really dark and that the tail did not show any rufous. I failed to note the brighter yellowish belly and plainer wing panel at this time. In our defense, the photos weren't of very good quality and quite blurry. Moreover, WHO in their right minds would've thought that a Dusky-capped Flycatcher would be present in the exact same tree immediately after getting good looks at a definite Ash-throated there!!? Again, in our haste to review the loon photos once more, we didn't think much more about it at that time. 2. 11/23/12= We returned to the spot with Hubert and began looking for the bird. Activity with other passerines was quite slow at the immediate area- as during the previous observation, with exception of an ever-present E Phoebe, a few AMGO and calling WIWR and WTSP in the thickets and woods to the East. It took a few minutes to bring the bird in. At about the time that the definite Ash-throated was being observed in the baldcypress, the Dusky-capped was also then plainly heard giving it's distinct, mournful, descending "wheer" call nearby and it's identity was suspected. It was heard on a couple of closely-spaced occasions and thought to be confirmed shortly after that. While we observed the larger Ash-throated on a North-facing branch of the baldcypress, the noticeably smaller Dusky-capped was observed arriving into the South side of the tree from the thicket to the East, prompting the ATFL to very quickly relocate briefly North, then back East toward the denser thickets. Charlie obtained video of the Dusky-capped at very close range as it bobbed and occasionally called, although this was hard to hear at the time with playback running. Each time playback was briefly shut off, the bird would retreat into the thicket, only to be heard occasionally calling, then only return or relocate nearby once ESOW or DCFL playback was once again used. Diagnostic field marks were observed during the observation, also afterward when looking at the video. 12/01= Bird was furtive, heard only regarding personal detection, then briefly seen by Jay.
12/15= Bird was observed at on and off at close range for 35 minutes and often perched on horizontal twigs rather low or slightly above, but more often at or below eye level. Playback of ATFL and DCFL was only briefly used. The bird did not respond to this. Brief Eastern Screech-Owl brough the bird in, bobbing and calling very closely, within 20-30 feet of Ronnie and I. Once, it relocated North just 10 feet West of us, touching down for a brief second on a low branch 2' above the ground, before relocating back West. It was particularly adept at partially or totally obscuring itself behind adjacent branches during the entire time we observed. It remained in the general area, occasionally sallying and was still there when we left.
12/24= The bird was heard calling on numerous occasions on and off during our observation. There were at least 3 observers, including myself that again thought it might be possible that there were more than one DCFL present, due to calls heard distantly from a different direction as the bird was being closely observed. The bird also bobbed it's head fairly frequently in response to an unheard or unseen stimuli (this often well before or after any brief playback had been used), then fly off toward that direction. There was one occasion when the bird was being closely observed when I was near 100% sure another bird called to our right. The visible individual was being watched at that time and not seen to call. It also bobed vigorously after the call of the other bird and briefly relocated. However, the single individual that has been observed during visits to the site, does show a penchance for the head-bobbing behavior- and brief playback had been used on a few occasions this day. Overall, though, the possibility of two birds calling in different directions noted this day seemed very uncanny- I was all but convinced there were two birds, if subtracting the improbability factor, during the aforementioned incident. Personally, the behavior seemed very sprite in comparison to what I've observed with Great Crested, and to a much lesser extent with Ash-throated. The bird was on the move, sallying and calling more frequently than the notably more retiring and quiet experiences I've had with ATFL and GCFL.
12/25= Very furtive and heard only, although we searched and came up empty-handed for at least 45 minutes after hearing it. Pending LBRC acceptance of this Dusky-capped Flycatcher, it would be a first for Louisiana.
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): 11/21/= Photos taken on this date, once again reviewed in retrospect, seem to show overall proportions correct, also proportionately long, narrow and dark bill, bright yellow belly and lack of rufous in tail distinctive of Dusky-capped Flycatcher. 11/23= The descending "wheer" calls were heard, also on a couple of occasions there sounded as if there were possibly a more distant bird answering back with calls, although this may be attributable to the bird varying the volume of it's voice. There were at least two calls that were given in a very short space of time, though. A more distant, softer than GCFL, ascending "weep" was also heard, along with a descending bickering trill. The bird was first seen flying into the tree and was noticeably smaller than the Ash-throated which simultaneously fled, relocating away, then back into the woods. Although somewhat pot-bellied and short-tailed when sitting, it looked distinctly small and noticeably comparatively slender while in flight. The rufous wing panel in secondaries was observed when the bird was not obscured or well-shaded by branches on a couple of occasions, although this did not stick out extremely well during the observation. The indistinct wingbars and lack of rufous in the tail did. The bill was again seen to be all dark and proportionately long and narrow in relation to the head. The bird bobbed frequently to both Ash-throated and Dusky-capped playback, also came closer to E Screech-OWL, but quickly relocated East toward the woods once various playback being used were entirely shut off. There was also at least one instance when observing the bird in a lower thicket to the Northeast when I was nearly 100% sure that I noticed another very small Myiarchus fly in simultaneously as the Dusky-capped being viewed, then it flew around toward the back side of the vine-covered shrub and disappeared. I was absolutely sure it was not the E Phoebe, which was a probable hy with a yellowish belly, while making this observation at this time. However, after spending quite some time in the field and realizing that things aren't always as they appear- and epsecially with observation being brief, it is very possible that I was mistaken. Voice recordings were made with an I-phone that retained three audible exapmples of the descending "wheer" call. 12-01= I heard the bird give a few low calls shortly after entering the woods. Jay also briefly had the bird in sight in a large leafless tree a little over a hundred feet to the Southwest of our observation point, which was also in good light at the time. Edit- 12/15= My best look at plumage characteristics yet. The rufous secondaries were seen well and also captured in photos. The tertial edgings were actually very contrastingly whitish in contrast to the darker centers of those feathers and to the rest of wing panel. I did not note this well during previous observations, although it does show very well in some previous photos and video. The comparatively somewhat brighter yellow belly versus Ash-throated, was also notable during this visit. Also noted the lack of diffuse, thin grayish area above the eye as in Ash-throated, also the much noticeably darker auriculars/face. That and the crown appeared notably browner than Ash-throated. 12/24= Excellent views of the shape, size and plumage characteristics were again observed off and on for well over an hour. The following was previously noted from earlier photos, then again in the field- The bill was again noted to be pale at the base of the lower mandible. However, this looked dark from the side view, unlike Ash-throated, which also showed this better than DCFL from side views as well.
16. Voice: 11/23= The bird was heard giving the distinctive low, mournful, descending "wheer" or "peer" of Dusky-capped Flycatcher. We were also able to record this on a phone. There was also a Great-crested-like ascending "wheep" possibly heard once or twice, along with a comparatively soft and more rapid bickering trill that somewhat descended toward the end- some of the latter possibly attributable to playback response. This is what confirmed the presence of the bird early on before we had good looks at it. 12/01= Heard giving descending "wheer" twice, then a more distant but fairly clear, ascending "wheep" right before leaving. 12/15= Four descending "wheer" calls were given, one while the bird was within 25' of us, but no recordings of this were obtained. 12/24= The bird was heard giving "wheer" calls many times on and off during the observation. I also heard a trill descending at end on at least two occasions. Occasionally the "wheer" would sound more emphatic/excited and ascending before descending. A recording was made of at least one of these more emphatic calls. 12/30= 4 to 5 descending "wheer" calls which seemed to originate somewhat more distantly from our location were clearly heard a little after midway during the survey, although the bird was not found.
17. Similar species (include how they were eliminated by your observation): From Ash-throated by calls, distinctly smaller size, slimmer, darker and proportionately longer bill, darker face/auriculars, lacking diffuse subtle grayish line above eye, notable lack of rufescent in proportionately shorter tail and plainer wing panels with non-contrasting wingbars, rufous in primaries, also continuing into secondaries in folded wing when sitting. Brighter, more lemon-yellow lower belly than pale, washed-out yellow of Ash-throated.
18. Photographs or tape recordings obtained? (by whom? attached?): 11/21= Crappy photos were obtained. 11/23= Good/close Video by Charlie showing excellent behavioral response to playback, bright belly and overall proportions for Dusky-capped well . 12/15= A few good photos were obtained by Ronnie Maum, also showing rufous in secondaries rather well. 12/24= diagnostic photos were obtained by more than one observer this day.
19. Previous experience with this species:20. Identification aids: (list books, illustrations, other birders, etc. used in identification):
a. at time of observation: During the initial observation, zero experience personally, other than being familiar with call, smaller size, plain wing panel and lack of rufous in tail. National Geographic and Sibley were referred to on 11/23
b. after observation: Many photos and various texts were studied to refresh on plumage detail in days shortly afterward.
21. This description is written from: 1 _____ notes made during the observation (_____notes attached?);_____notes made after the observation (date:_____); some_____memory.
22. Are you positive of your identification if not, explain: I was not entirely ready and caught off guard during the brief encounter on 11/21. However, from near immediately after 11/23 vocals, then sighting and afterward, Yes
23. Signature of reporter: __Terry Davis____________________________Date:__12/13/12________Time:__9:55 p.m._____
24. Edited again 12/29/12 to include notes from subsequent observations. Edited 1/1/13 to include final survey in which bird was heard only.