Dusky-capped Flycatcher (Myiarchus tuberculifer)
Santa Cruz, California
We entered via the paved path from California Street off Bay Street and checked out the area where the fence is covered with flowering German Ivy. We had no luck at first and spread out covering different areas. I first spotted the Dusky-capped Flycatcher low in a willow overhanging the trail next to some wind chimes hanging by a trailer. However the bird quickly flew downslope and disappeared into the dense vegetation. I alerted the others and we concentrated searching this area for about 45 minutes when they located the bird low in some flowering eucalyptus just beyond the flowering German Ivy. It was there that I got my best views, although they were sporadic as the bird frequently disappeared deep within the vegetation. Viewing was with 8x40 B&L Elite binoculars. I brought my scope, but was never able to use it on this individual.
The following description was obtained:
The wings were patterned similarly to Ash-throated with pale gray fringes to all coverts and tertials and rusty fringing to the bases of the primaries. However the Dusky-capped also appeared to have rusty fringing on the seecondaries which is lacking on Ash-throat.
I spent much time studying the tail wich was dark brown above, with fairly obvious rufous-orange fringes along the outer webs of the outermost rectrices. Some of this rufous-orange color penetrated to the tips of the uppertail coverts. Unfortunately the underside of the tail was not seen well, but my impression from brief glimpses is that it was gray. In flight the tail showed no obvious rusty coloration except for the rufous-orange fringes on the outer webs noted above. If there had been rufous on the inner webs of the rectrices, I believe I would have noticed them in flight.
The bill was relatively long, appearing all black. The eye was dark, feet and legs not noted.
At one point when the bird flew, I thought I heard a faint mournful mewing whistle which I believe was the bird calling. However it did not repeat this call during the 15 or so minutes we had the bird under intermittent observation and none of my companions heard it call.
This species is increasing as a late fall and winter visitant to California where it has become annual in small numbers in recent years. I am aware of one other report from Northern California this winter and three from Southern California.
This is seventh Dusky-capped Flycatcher I have seen in California. Others were wintering birds at the Carmel River and at Moss Landing, Monterey County; Pine Lake Park and Fort Funston, San Francisco; Natural Bridges State Park, Santa Cruz County; and Los Osos, San Louis Obispo County.
380 Talbot Avenue #206
Pacifica, CA 94044