Nutting’s Flycatcher – Accepted

1. 11 Nov 2000–26 Mar 2001


Irvine ORA



Figs. 245–248, ph., video, audio, cover WB 32(1), Wild Bird Sep/Oct 2002:46, McKee & Erickson (2002)


Nutting’s Flycatcher – Not accepted, identification not established

01 Jan–03 Feb 2003


Santa Cruz SCZ



ph., NAB 57:287, video, audio






Figures 245–247. Between 11 November 2000 and 26 March 2001, California’s only Nutting’s Flycatcher pleased throngs of birders at Mason Regional Park in Irvine, Orange County. This instructive series of photographs was taken on 23 December 2000. Note especially the pattern on the rectrices and the bright orange mouth lining (2000-161; Larry Sansone).


Figure 248. Field sketches of the Nutting’s Flycatcher at Mason Regional Park, Irvine, rendered on 6 January 2001 (2000-161; Andrew Birch).

Click image for larger version.






Nutting’s Flycatcher

NUTTING’S FLYCATCHER Myiarchus nuttingi Ridgway, 1883

Accepted: 1 (50%)

Treated in Appendix H: no

Not accepted: 1

CBRC review: all records

Not submitted/reviewed: 0

Large color images: see Figures

This species is a resident of Middle America, occurring from northern Sonora south along the Pacific slope, and locally on the Atlantic slope, to northwestern Costa Rica. Arizona claims two records (Rosenberg 2001, ABA 2002).

Nutting’s Flycatcher seemed a long shot to reach California, and yet a calling bird that was probably in its first year wintered from 11 November 2000 to 26 March 2001 in Irvine, Orange County (Figures 245–248). Because of the extent of dark pigmentation in the rectrices, this bird’s identity was not immediately ascertained. Dark coloration usually does not cross the shaft near the tip of the tail in Nutting’s Flycatcher (Lanyon 1961; Howell and Webb 1994, 1995), but researchers have long warned of considerable variability in this pattern (e.g., Allen 1892, Bangs and Peters 1928). Lanyon (1961) found rectrix pattern to be useful in diagnosing species limits between Nutting’s and Ash-throated Flycatchers, with this important caveat: “The extent and pattern of the fuscous areas on the inner vanes of the rectrices is the most variable aspect of plumage coloration in these sibling species.”

Another Myiarchus flycatcher initially thought by many to be a Nutting’s was present from 1 January to 3 February 2003 in Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz County. Lanyon (1961) indicated that, in the field, the two most reliable features separating Nutting’s Flycatcher from the nearly identical Ash-throated Flycatcher are vocalizations and the color of the mouth lining (bright orange in Nutting’s, flesh-colored in Ash-throated). Descriptions of the Santa Cruz bird’s mouth lining varied by observer, and so were of limited value in evaluating the record. Sonograms of the bird’s vocalizations, however, ultimately convinced the entire Committee that the bird was, in fact, an Ash-throated Flycatcher.