Hey guys, welcome back. Today we venture bak into the confusing world of flycatchers, specifically the genus Empidonax which has the majority of nearly identical species. The least flycatcher certainly fits into that category, but is actually easier to tell apart than, say, an alder flycatcher from a willow flycatcher. First off, as their name suggests, they’re small. They’re the smallest flycatcher in the east. They appear to have a longer tail in relation to their bodies (although this is mostly an illusion created by the fact they have shorter wings relation to their bodies than their cousins.) Though posture and coloration are pretty damn close to the other flycatchers in this genus, the least lacks the peaked head of the others and also has a much bolder, more distinct white eyering.
I remember my first least flycatcher. In fact, it’s pictured at the top of this post. I was looking for warblers in Central Park’s North Woods and saw this little guy. He didn’t sit still long enough to get a look at for some time. I was pretty sure of what it was based on its size, and the fact that they are slightly more common in Central Park than, say, a willow flycatcher. When it finally stopped, I could confirm it by its eyering, which is pretty visible in the picture as well. Like most flycatchers, the least sallies out from a perch to capture insects in mid air. The least flycatcher does have some interesting traits. They will typically find a mate, build a nest, lay and hatch their eggs, and raise their young to independence in a span just under 2 months. Talk about a fast mover. Also, unlike most birds, the least flycatcher actually waits to molt until after it migrates back to its wintering grounds, instead of doing it before the long journey. Next up is a bird that is more common as a pet, at least in North America. See you then!