[Tweeters] Re: Least Flycatchers in Washington State

Hal Michael ucd880 at comcast.net
Tue Jun 2 07:18:34 PDT 2015

One thing to keep in mind is that there is a big difference between an animal's presence in an area and recording of that presence. A year or so ago we had what was probably the same Rose-breasted grosbeak male at our feeder. About 3 months apart and for about a minute each time. It was reported on ebird both times, but was only seen by us those two. Since it was probably the same bird, where was the rest of the time?

My point is that the "reported" presence is very different from the actual. Somebody may see a lot of Least Flycatchers, for example, know where to find them, consider them regular, and not post about them because they are "normal".

Hal Michael
Olympia WA
360-459-4005 (H)
360-791-7702 (C)
ucd880 at comcast.net

----- Original Message -----

I found Joshua's post very interesting and the paper by Steve also. Hoping to give Joshua and Tweeters something to think about and NOT finding fault with Steve's conclusions; here are some thoughts and observations.

Having lived and birded in eastern WA for 22 years, we were aware of many birds typically thought of to be "Eastern" species. There were Least Flycatchers routinely at Sullivan Lake (Pend Oreille) in the early 90's. In that area (and elsewhere) were also Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart, Bobolink, Black-capped Chickadees, Eastern Kingbirds, etc. We were aware that many of these species have ranges in the East, up through and across Canada, and then drop down into WA.

Also around in our E WA days were multiple Common Grackle, Blue Jay, a long list of "eastern" warblers (most likely vagrants??), Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Phoebe, Veery, Northern Mockingbird, and Indigo Bunting.

On the other hand, now that we live in Florida, we are amazed at the amount of "Western" birds that are here. Not just the ones like Burrowing Owl that have a remnant population from who knows when, but also many flycatchers (Western, Tropical, and Cassin's Kingbirds, Scissor-tailed, Ash-throated, Vermilion, Brown-crested, Sulphur-bellied Flycatchers, and Say's Phoebe). We have seen Green-tailed Towhee, Swainson's Hawk (not all of them over-winter in Argentina after all), Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, and many more. One weekend in Gainesville we saw Bullock's Oriole and Black-chinned and Calliope hummers; backyard birds for us in Richland!) Rufous Hummingbirds are now regular here. California and Thayer's Gulls have been documented. Some western species are vagrants but some occur regularly enough that they are considered rare (annual) but not surprising.

So, one can wonder how much is due to range expansion, weather related "invasions", or observer awareness and how much relates to remnant ancient migratory routes that we do not know much about? We do NOT pretend to know the answers. Keep studying status and distribution - it is a fascinating aspect to add to your birding pleasure!

Nancy LaFramboise

On Mon, Jun 1, 2015 at 8:38 PM, Joshua Glant < josh.n.glant at gmail.com > wrote:

By the way, that article was written in 2005. The situation has surely changed in the last 9 years! I hope I can see a Least Flycatcher, and other eastern (Washington or otherwise) birds this year!

Joshua Glant

Mercer Island, WA

Josh.n.glant at gmail.com

On Jun 1, 2015, at 5:33 PM, Joshua Glant < josh.n.glant at gmail.com > wrote:


Hello Tweets,

Until just now, I had thought of Least Flycatchers as a regular and long-time member of our state's avifauna. But I love reading research papers, and today I read one that taught me otherwise. If you like reading research papers too, here is the one I'm talking about, written by Mr. Steven G. Mlodinow. (Mr. Mlodinow, if you're reading this, I really enjoyed your article!)


The prospect of Eastern birds spreading westward excites me, in a way. Who wouldn't want to see Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, Indigo Buntings, Blue Jays and Broad-winged Hawks more often? I know I would!

Good birding, and what a wonderful world, Joshua Glant

Mercer Island, WA

Josh.n.glant at gmail.com

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