Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Acadian Flycatcher & Some Other Rondeau Gems...

This is an Olive-sided Flycatcher at Ojibway Park.  Great bird!

After work on Friday May 31st, I went for a walk at the Ojibway Tallgrass Prairie. I was hoping to find an influx of Indigo Buntings, but I still have not heard or seen many this year. I did see an Orchard Oriole, male and female Eastern Bluebirds and a few other expected residents. As usual, I had photographed a few skippers, Wood Nymph Butterflies and a few birds I had seen. A distant, tree-top bird that caught my eye was photographed, but seemed too far, too distant to even bother identifying while in the field. The white sky behind the subject made even visually recognizing it a little difficult.

Long story short, I was looking over the weekend at the bird on my computer and realized it was an Olive sided Flycatcher! This is my third Olive sided Flycatcher, and my first "northbound". A quick study of the pictures shows a white patch on the birds lower back (not its rump), dusky wingbars, dark face and white throat, short but notched tail, and a sharp contrasting 'vest' on its chest. I didn't hear it sing "Quick, three beers" but its tree top perch was telling as well.

This weekend, I attended the Skunks Misery OFO walk, and was saddened to not see my one target bird, the Acadian Flycatcher. (More on that trip in my next posting). Blake had told me during that trip that our missed target bird is pretty easily seen at Rondeau...

So on Monday June 3rd,  Jeremy Bensette and I decided we would meet up (after work) at Tilbury to do an Acadian Flycatcher trip to Rondeau. In a cruel twist of events, I had planned on talking with Blake over the phone about the bird's location, but he had his phone off that afternoon. That meant Jeremy and I would have to find  this elusive flycatcher on the 32 -square kilometer park. Well, we knew it was on Spicebush Trail, which rounded down the area we had to search. Luckily, the explosive Ka-ZEEP! call was heard soon after we started our search!

According to ROM, there are fewer than 40 pairs of Acadian Flycatchers in all of Canada. The Carolinian zone in Southwestern Ontario is the northern fringe of this bird's breeding territory. There are fewer than 20 sites that meet the Acadian Flycatcher's demands of a flooded forest floor or ravine, with a large amount of forest surrounding its breeding grounds, as much as 100m away from any forest edge! This bird will not nest in a forest with less than 25-30 acres in size (Ohio DNR).

The Acadian Flycatcher has a call that sounds like an emphatic "peet-za" or sometimes an explosive "ka-ZEEP" (ROM). Tonight, Jeremy and I heard and recorded the call. This bird must be identified carefully as it looks like many others in the flycatcher family. Its best identified by sound and habitat. Also noted was the birds quick, agile flight from perch to perch.

According to I-Bird, the name of this bird has an interesting origin. Fifteen species of flycatchers were at one point thought to be all the same. But slowly, the flycatchers were all sorted out and separated by subtle details in plumage, and more obvious details in their calls and habitat preferences. The original flycatchers were discovered in Acadia yet the Acadian Flycatcher is found more in the southeastern corner of the US, and not in the northeast. (I-Bird)

Flycatcher Calling Mnemonics:
Willow Flycatcher - Fitz-Bew (Brushy wet areas, more southerly range)
Alder Flycatcher -  (Raspy) Free-Beer (Alder Marshes, more northerly range)
Acadian Flycatcher - (Explosive) Peet-ZA or ka-ZEEP (Deep forest, with watery areas)

It was an amazing moment of birding when we saw this bird. In the background, Eastern Wood Pewee, Pileated Woodpeckers and Wood Thrushes were calling.  Wood Ducks and White tailed Deer came into view as well. 

Later, Jeremy and I found this Prothonotary Warbler. We watched a female forage for 5 minutes, then all of a sudden, the male came by and mated with the female right there in front of us! Jeremy saw the 2-second spectacle, but I missed it as I was 'chimping' my camera (chimping is when a photographer looks down at his/her DSLR screen and looking at their recent photos and pressing various buttons).

Jeremy Bensette heard a Chuck-wills-Widow calling near the visitor center.  Him and I both have the audio of it singing, but a curious aspect of his find is that it was only 6pm when we heard it. Another birder that frequents the Rondeau area checked for its call on and verified that indeed, there is a Chuck wills Widow singing near the Rondeau Visitor center around dusk. It took much effort, but I created a short video below documenting some of the sounds of today's trip...

As we left Rondeau, this Traill's flycatcher made an appearance. I feel it was either an Alder or Willow Flycatcher. Willow would be more common, but Alder's range does overlap at Rondeau. It didn't call, so we'll call it a Traill's Flycatcher, the name of the mix of Alder and Willow Flycatchers before they were distinguished as a separate species.

I was hoping this bird would call, but ... no luck it was silent and quickly dashed out of view

Other highlights today at Rondeau included: Pileated Woodpecker (heard drumming and singing), Red bellied Woodpecker, Downy, Hairy, (Red headed for sure but not seen in our short time). Woodthrush and Veery heard often. Black billed Cuckoo (heard). Scarlet Tanager and a nice female Indigo Bunting were seen close to the visitor center parking lot. We were really excited about this brief but productive visit to Rondeau!

Ebird Checklist by Jeremy Bensette: eBird Checklist – Rondeau Provincial Park, Ontario – Mon Jun 03, 2013 – 51 species

Good birding!

Lifer Summary:
Acadian Flycatcher 333
Chuck wills widow 334

Sources and more reading:

I-Bird, "Acadian Flycatcher", ND, WEB, June 5, 2013,

Ohio DNR, Acadian Flycatcher, ND, WEB, June 3, 2013,

ROM, "Ontario's Biodiversity: Species at Risk - Acadian Flcatcher", Oct 2008, WEB, June 3, 2013,

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...