Similar to the Dusky and Gray Flycatchers whose habitats occasionally overlap theirs. The Hammond's Flycatcher is a small suboscine, 12.5 to 14.5 cm, 7.7 to 12.1 g. Sexually monomorphic. During breeding season, males have cloacal protuberance, females have brood patch. Upper parts grayish olive; head more grayish with less olive; sides of breast and upper breast dark gray. Abdomen and undertail coverts yellowish to whitish depending on extent of prenuptial molt; yellow or white of abdomen bordered by darkish flanks gives some birds a vested appearance. Throat pale gray; outer web of outer tail feathers grayish white; whitish eye-ring, often thicker behind eye. Wing-bars narrow and whitish in adults and broader and buffy in hatching year birds (Sedgwick 1994).
VOCALIZATIONS: Call notes include a sharp peek or pip given by both sexes, and a soft, descending "k-lear
" or "k-lear whee-zee
" most commonly given by males. Song is a burry "se-put tsurrt chu-lup
", lower and huskier than Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri
), which is slightly more musical. The song sequence may consist of all three elements or the elements given singly or in couplets, such as "tseep tsurp
" (Sedgwick 1994, NGS 1999). Males sing most frequently in morning and before dusk, but will sing throughout the day, and usually use perches in mid- to upper-canopy (Sedgwick 1994).
For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.
See Whitney and Kaufmann (1985) for details on identification.
Western Hemisphere Range
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Inhabits cool forest and woodland, breeding primarily in dense fir, mature coniferous or mixed forests to near timberline (Sedgwick 1994).
Diet consists of insects. The Hammond's Flycatcher is primarily an aerial forager, capturing most of its insect diet on the wing. On occasion it may forage from leaf surfaces or from the ground (Sedgwick 1994).
Territory sizes of 1.6 to 3.2 acres in Douglas-fir or lodgepole forests in western Montana have been reported. In western Montana, 80% and 52% of singing and non-singing perches were in the upper one-third of mature conifers.
In western Montana, nests were saddled on limbs of mature conifers, 10.5 to 40 feet high. They breed in June and July. Near the Fortine area, young were being fed on July 19.