Dusky-capped Flycatcher
Golden Gate Park, Archery Range
San Francisco, California
11 November 2000
Joseph Morlan

Photos © 7 November 2000 Stephen J. Davies
After leading my ornithology class field trip to the Rhododendron Dell and Strybing Arboretum this morning, I decided to try again for the Dusky-capped Flycatcher which had been frequenting the area on the west side of the Golden Gate Park Archery Range. This bird was first found 1 November by Kevin McKereghan (click here for Kevin's details) and has been seen sporadically since. I arrived about 12:30 p.m. and met Hugh Cotter and Dan Murphy who had been looking unsuccessfully for the bird although they had heard it call a couple of times. Kathy Robertson also joined in the search for a while, but eventually they all left without seeing it. I decided to stay behind along with Charles Bukaski.

About 1:30 p.m. I heard the distinctive faint plaintive "wheer" note of the Dusky-capped Flycatcher calling from within the Myoporum adjacent to the large Monterey Pine at the west end of the Archery Range. This sound was somewhat ventriloquial, sounding much more distant than it really was. Eventually I located the bird, quite low, below eye-level on the archery side of the bushes. I called Charles over and we both got good looks at the bird from fairly close range, but total viewing time was only a few minutes.

The following is based on notes taken during and immediately after the observation:

It was a small Myiarchus with a bright yellow breast and belly, contrasting moderately with the whitish throat. The back was decidedly greenish-olive and the bird showed a slight dusky bushy crest. The eye was dark. The bill was quite long and fairly narrow, but the underside of the base of the lower mandible had a definitepinkish tinge.

The wings showed rufous fringes to the primaries and secondaries edged rufous. The inner tertials were edged with grayish-white and the innermost tertial was misplaced on either side revealing a pale orange fringe to the inner web of each feather. This extra orange wing stripe resulted in a very weird appearance overall.

The tail was blackish and heavily worn with little or no evidence of rufous edges. However, one central tail feather appeared to be not fully grown and it a narrow showed rufous edge to the inner web when seen from above.

The legs and feet were dark.

This is the fourth Dusky-capped Flycatcher I have seen in San Francisco, the others being from Pine Lake Park (two different birds) and Fort Funston.

This individual differed from my previous California experience in that it had a more olive back (less brown), less rust on the outer edges of the rectrices and more pale coloration on the lower mandible. I believe that the bird is probably undergoing first prebasic molt. Additional more extensive details by Mark Eaton have been posted here.