Living Bird Magazine
Hammond's FlycatcherEmpidonax hammondii
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Tyrannidae
A small, olive-green bird with a prominent eyering and wingbars, the Hammond’s Flycatcher is a bird of mature and old-growth coniferous forests of western North America. Males sing a very short, 3-parted song that can help distinguish this species from other similar Empidonax flycatchers, including the Dusky Flycatcher, which can occur in shrubby habitats adjacent to Hammond’s. Compared to other Empidonax, Hammond’s has a fairly small, dark bill and long wings. In its breeding habitat, Hammond’s often forages and nests rather high in trees.More ID Info
Find This Bird
Look for Hammond’s Flycatchers in spring and summer in coniferous forests. Voice is important for Empidonax flycatchers, since the species look so similar—pay attention especially to differences with Dusky Flycatchers, the species most likely to be confused with Hammond’s. Identification is especially difficult when an Empidonax remains silent (as they often do during migration)—it can be helpful to take photos in order to study fine details such as bill size and wing length (primary projection).
- Mosquero de Hammond (Spanish)
- Moucherolle de Hammond (French)
- Cool Facts
- Hammond’s and Dusky Flycatchers are so similar that telling them apart is a true challenge. Color and pattern do not help. Even the voices, usually the most helpful character in distinguishing Empidonax flycatchers, are quite similar. In the field, birders use “primary projection” to distinguish the two species visually: the tips of the primary feathers that stick out past the innermost flight feathers (tertials) are rather short and stubby in Dusky Flycatcher, notably longer, narrower, or pointier in Hammond’s.
- Hammond’s Flycatcher is named in honor of William Alexander Hammond, a physician with the U.S. military who collected the first specimens and sent them to ornithologist Spencer Fullerton Baird, the first curator of the Smithsonian Institution.
- Early in the breeding season, territorial male Hammond's Flycatchers fight so vigorously that they often become locked together in midair, fluttering to the ground.
- The oldest recorded Hammond's Flycatcher was a female, and at least 7 years old when she was recaptured and rereleased during banding operations in Oregon.