To separate flycatchers in the Myiarchus genus, pay attention to tail pattern, voice, plumage brightness, bill size, and subtleties in cap or head color. Range is also an important factor to consider that will reduce the number of similar species to consider. Dusky-capped Flycatcher and Brown-crested Flycatcher overlap with Ash-throated Flycatchers in the Southwest. Dusky-capped Flycatchers have a dark tail with little or no rufous, a brighter yellow belly than Ash-throated, and a darker gray cap, head, and throat. Dusky-capped also has a unique call that is more slurred and less abrupt than that of Ash-throated Flycatchers. The inner tail feathers of Brown-crested Flycatchers show a thinner rufous stripe than in Ash-throated Flycatchers, and the outer tail feathers are brownish gray. Also, the rufous stripe in the center of the Brown-crested’s tail extends to the tip, while in Ash-throated Flycatchers the tail tip is bordered by grayish brown. Brown-crested Flycatchers have a larger and thicker bill than Ash-throated. Great Crested Flycatcher overlaps with Ash-throated Flycatcher in Texas and is most easily distinguished from Ash-throated by voice, a brighter yellow belly, extensive rufous in the tail, a darker grayish brown head, and a larger bill. Myiarchus flycatchers tend to stray out of their normal range, so although rare, you never know where one might show up. Nutting’s Flycatchers are rare winter vagrants in the Southwest where they could overlap with Ash-throated. Nutting’s Flycatchers have pale cinnamon edging to the secondaries, while the secondaries on Ash-throated are whitish which contrast with the rufous edging on the primaries. La Sagra’s Flycatcher is a rare vagrant in Florida and generally does not overlap with Ash-throated Flycatcher.
Find This Bird
The trick to finding an Ash-throated Flycatcher is to listen for its distinctive ka-brick call in dry, open woodlands and scrub. Heading out early in the morning will increase your chances of finding one, as they, like other desert dwellers, tend to quiet down as soon as the sun starts heating things up. They often call from the tops of low trees or shrubs while looking around, tipping their heads side to side in curiosity. When you are out looking for them, don’t ignore sparsely vegetated areas as they can also turn up in deserts with little vegetation; all they need is a place to build their nest. The other trick to finding an Ash-throated Flycatcher especially in the Southwest is to make sure you know what to look for, because other species can look similar. Myiarchus flycatchers like the Ash-throated are larger and have a peaked head unlike the Empidonax flycatchers. They are also larger and slimmer than phoebes. Many of the similar looking Myiarchus flycatchers do not call during the nonbreeding season, which can make identification tricky, but Ash-throateds are the most common and widespread Myiarchus flycatcher in the region where they are found.