Fall migration of Empidonax flycatchers in northwestern Colombia

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South of Mexico, little is known about the fall migration patterns of most Neotropical migrants. I studied the migration of Empidonax flycatchers using mist-net surveys in northwestern Colombia from late September to mid-October in 4 yr (2003–2005, 2008). Empidonax species were identified using linear measurements and color patterns. About 62% of captured individuals were reliably identified to species, with 86% identified as Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii) and 14% as Alder Flycatchers (E. alnorum). No Acadian Flycatchers (E. virescens) were identified. Most birds captured were adults (84.9%) and, due to overlap in measurements, I was only able to determine the sex of 16.3% of the birds. Most Empidonax flycatchers migrated through northwestern Colombia during September and October, with individuals migrating through my study area over a period of at least 1 mo. Willow Flycatchers tended to migrate earlier than Alder Flycatchers, a pattern consistent with the fall movements of these two species at other locations. No captured flycatchers were molting either remiges or rectrices, and most (89%) had either no or slight traces of subcutaneous fat. No Empidonax flycatchers were recaptured, suggesting that stopover duration at my study site was brief. My results show that many Empidonax flycatchers can be identified as Willow and Alder flycatchers during the nonbreeding period, and such identification will enhance our knowledge of their geographical distribution and improve our understanding of possible patterns of segregation on their wintering grounds.

Keywords: Colombia; Empidonax alnorum; Empidonax traillii; Traill's Flycatchers; fall migration; sibling species

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1557-9263.2010.00281.x

Publication date: September 1, 2010

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