Fanciful Flycatchers

By Jim Gain

Learn 100 Common Valley Birds is a photo blog series highlighting the 100 most common Valley bird species.

Post #18 in the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series. (Species 28 and 29/100)

Ash-throated Flycatcher #28

The Ash-throated Flycatcher (Myiarchus cinerascens) is a medium-sized bird species found throughout the Western United States, including in the Central Valley of California. These birds are known for their distinctive plumage, which includes a brownish-gray back, pale underparts, and a rusty brown tail. As their name suggests, Ash-throated Flycatchers also have a light ash-gray throat and breast.

These birds prefer open woodland habitats, such as oak savannas and riparian corridors, where they forage for insects from a perch. They are known for their distinctive vocalizations, including a sharp “wheep” call and a trill-like song. 

During the breeding season, male Ash-throated Flycatchers perform elaborate courtship displays, including aerial chases and singing from a prominent perch. They typically lay 4-5 eggs in a cup-shaped nest made of grass, bark, and other plant materials. Overall, the Ash-throated Flycatcher is an important and charismatic species in the Central Valley of California, and its conservation is crucial to maintaining the region’s biodiversity.

Western Wood-Pewee – Species #29

The Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulusis) a small migratory bird that can be found in the Central Valley of California during the summer breeding season. These birds are about 6 inches long and have a wingspan of approximately 9 inches. They are grayish-brown in color with a slightly darker head and wings, and a pale breast.

Western Wood-Pewees are insectivores and are often found perched on branches, waiting for insects to fly by. They are known for their distinctive calls, which sound like a sweet, whistled “pee-a-wee.” During the breeding season, these birds build cup-shaped nests out of twigs, grass, and other plant materials.

Despite their small size, Western Wood-Pewees are important members of the Central Valley’s ecosystem. They help control insect populations, and their nests provide homes for other small animals like insects and spiders. However, like many bird species, they face threats from habitat loss and climate change, making conservation efforts crucial for their continued survival.

Previous posts from the Learn 100 Common Valley Birds series,

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