HAMMOND FLYCATCHER. Empidonax hammondi (Xantus)
to those for Wright Flycatcher (which see) If seen at very close range,
the following features (to judge from specimens in hand) might prove
usable: Coloration both above and below as in Wright Flycatcher but
darker more slaty gray; size, especially of bill, less. Voice:
Like that of Wright Flycatcher, but less in volume and thought to be not
so varied. Call note a weak pit; song, see'wit, pseet,
swerz, etc., these three notes repeated many times with little
common summer visitant to Canadian Zone on west slope of Sierra Nevada.
Recorded by us from Merced Grove and Chinquapin east to Porcupine Flat
and Merced Lake. Found in migration at Pleasant Valley (May 25, 1915).
One obtained in Yosemite Valley, September 23, 1917 (J. Mailliard, 1918,
p. 18). Restricted closely to red fir forests during nesting season;
forages singly, 20 to 100 feet above the ground.
The Hammond Flycatcher during its summer sojourn in
the Yosemite region is a constant associate of the red firs. This of
course means that it is found in only a limited portion of the Canadian
Zone and only on the west side of the mountains. The Wright Flycatcher
occurs in the same territory, as well as elsewhere, but it usually keeps
near the ground in or close above brush patches, while the Hammond
rarely strays below a height of 20 feet, keeping, rather, far aloft
among the towering firs.
At Pleasant Valley, on May 25, 1915, Hammond
Flycatchers were passing through in migration, although on May 25, 1919,
birds of this species were found to be already located in the red firs
at Tamarack Flat and even earlier (May 20) near Chinquapin. During the
nesting season the species keeps close to its favorite forest trees, but
after the broods of young are reared the young at least begin to wander
higher into the mountains and to invade the Hudsonian Zone. On August
22, 1915, an immature bird was taken at 10,000 feet altitude on the
north side of Mount Clark; two others were seen that day at 10,500 feet
on the upper slopes of the same peak. The latest seasonal record is for
August 28, 1915, when two immature birds were collected one mile east of
Merced Lake. A small flycatcher seen at close range in this same
locality on September 1, 1915, was thought to be a Hammond.
The call note of the Hammond Flycatcher is weaker
than that of the Wright, being a soft pit. And the song is
usually simpler and weaker in delivery than that of the Wright, and may
be written as see' wit, pseet, swerz, etc. This three-part song
is uttered at varying intervals for many minutes as the bird perches on
the terminal twig of some outstanding dead branch two-thirds the way
toward the top of a fir. When foraging the birds display considerable
activity, changing their locations every 5 or 10 seconds. This may mean
that flying insects are less abundant upward of 100 feet above the
ground than at lower levels and must be more sought after there than
within the forage range of the low-dwelling species of flycatchers.
No nests of the Hammond Flycatcher came to our
notice, but birds taken in late June, 1915, gave indubitable evidence of