Cordilleran (?) Flycatcher, Empidonax occidentalis


"Western" Flycatcher, 4/20/09, Madera Canyon, AZ


The empidonax flycatcher species formerly known as Western Flycatcher has been split into two species distinguishable by vocalization, but not by appearance, Cordilleran and Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Cordilleran nests in Southeastern Arizona, and Pacific-slope migrates through there; the former is more likely at the 5000 foot altitude of Madera Canyon, where the two birds shown in these three images were photographed. The bird pictured in dorsal and ventral views in the top two images looks to be a "Western" type. Features suggesting this are the broken eye-ring with teardrop shape, the relatively bright green of the back and yellow of the underparts, the off-white of the wingbars, and the raised crown feathers. Since no identifying vocalization was heard, it remains possible that this was a Pacific-slope Flycatcher at a higher altitude than is usual for that bird; the best I can say is "Western" Flycatcher, more likely Cordilleran than Pacific-slope. 


"Western" Flycatcher, 4/20/09, Madera Canyon, AZ


The bird seen below, also photographed in Madera Canyon only fifteen minutes in time and no more than fifty yards in distance from the one in the two images above, has a more clearcut "Western" type eye-ring, partly broken and with a teardrop shape. As with the bird shown above, the 5000 foot altitude suggests Cordilleran, but in the absence of definitive vocalization, this has to be left with a question mark.


"Western" Flycatcher, 4/20/09, Madera Canyon, AZ