Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Variegated Flycatcher: a species new for Panama

Suzanne Osier, an amateur birder currently living in Panama aboard her sailboat, photographed this Variegated Flycatcher in Fort Sherman on January 18, 2010. The bird was found at Kennedy Loop, the open area beyond the old cinema (or was it a church?) where the Lined Seedeater was seen that one time. Ex marks the spot:

This bird's shape, long and lean, doesn't match the typical Streaked Flycatcher or Piratic Flycatcher, the common streaky flycatchers in the area. All the distinguishing marks for Variegated are visible in the photos: olive-brown back, rufous rump and tail edgings, bold white edgings on the wing coverts, pink base to the mandible, and mottled-streaked underparts. 
Variegated Flycatcher ranges into Northeast South America, but its southern populations are migratory and are known to sometimes overshoot their winter destination. There are records from the United States and Canada, so it's not totally surprising to find one in Panama (especially at Fort Sherman, which seems to be a magnet for vagrants).
[The bird] was relaxed and quiet and perched at the edge of the road. He was only a few feet above my head. He was not the least bit bothered by my presence and allowed me to take quite a few photos.
For an account of the discovery and identification, see Suzanne's blog. Consensus among our local experts and on BirdForum leans strongly for Variegated. What do you think?

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