|Species: Hammond’s Flycatcher
Hammond’s Flycatcher is a common but poorly known migratory species
of the genus Empidonax that breeds in mature coniferous and mixed
forests of western North America. Flycatchers of the genus Empidonax
(literally translated as “mosquito king”) are so similar in size and
appearance that a birder can identify them with certainty only by
their calls, habitat and range.
The name was given to this bird in 1858 by John Xantus for his
friend Dr.Wm.A. Hammond a surgeon in the US Army.
This flycatcher summers from Alaska, BC, south east Alberta, south
to California, Arizona and New Mexico. It winters in Mexico and
parts of central Central America.
This is a small and compact Empid with a fairly large head, and long
primary projection: bill is very small and dark. 13cm length. 10g
Sexes are alike. White eye ring usually expanded in a “teardrop” at
rear. Grayish head and throat; grayish-olive back; gray or olive
wash on breast and sides; belly tinged with pale yellow and white
wing bars. Slight crest to head.
Brownish washed upperparts and buffy wing bars; edging to
secondaries and tertials with buffy wash.
Dusky Flycatcher is small but not as compact as Hammond’s. Dusky is
longer tailed, shorter-winged, longer billed; rounded head.
Hammond’s Flycatcher is primarily an aerial forager, capturing most
of its insect diet on the wing. It tends to forage high in trees and
repeatedly flicks its tail and wings while doing so. Though feeding
mostly on flying insects it may also hover near tips of foliage,
from underneath leaves and branches and at tree trunks. Occasionally
it may drop from low perches to ground or to base of trees to
Summers mostly in mature coniferous forests at high altitude. Firs,
spruces, pines or mixed forests near timberline. It lives at higher
elevations than other small flyctchers.
Similar in song and
appearance to the Dusky Flycatcher of chaparral hillsides this
species avoids competition for nest sites and food by living higher
on the mountains in open coniferous forests.
Because this species frequently nests high in conifers, saddling its
nest on a horizontal limb well away from the main trunk, its nests
are difficult to locate and regular checks of the nests contents are
arduous. The nest is a tight cup of bark strips, grasses and plant
down lined with moss, hair and feathers 25-40ft high.
3-4 white eggs occasionally spotted. Both members of the pair feed
nestlings and fledglings, but only the female incubates the eggs and
broods the young.
adversely affect this species, which prefers mature and old-growth
coniferous forests, generally stands of more than 10 hectares and a
minimum age of 80-90 years. BBS data show and increasing but
nonsignificant trend for both them US and the continent during the
The Hammond’s Flycatcher preferred breeding habitat is
higher elevation, dense conifer or mixed deciduous-conifer
forests and therefore is a migrant visitor to Colony Farm.
Subsequently, capture rates (2010-2012; standardized as
birds captured per 100 net hours) are highest in April and
May, with smaller numbers captured in September as the bird
returns to its wintering habitat in Central America.