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Number of species: 80

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Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimus

HY birds can be readily separated from older individuals in fall due to juvenile plumage, but after the prealternate molt in winter, age is more difficult to determine reliably. Sexes are identical in plumage; breeding females have a brood patch, but males have a poorly developed cloacal protuberance and may be more difficult to identify with confidence.

Least Flycatcher is similar to other small Empidonax flycatchers (especially Dusky and Hammond's) and should be identified with caution especially where ranges overlap.

Quick Tips:

  • Look at the wing bars, which are buffy on HY individuals, contrastingly white/buffy on SY individuals, uniformly whitish on AHY individuals, and a subtle mix of whitish and yellowish on ASY individuals.
  • Examine the rectrices, which are narrow and pointed on HY and some SY birds, mixed pointed and rounded on some SY birds, and uniformly rounded on ASY and some SY birds.

Species account prepared by McGill Bird Observatory

Click on any image below to bring up the side-by-side comparison tool.
Age / Sex  Image sets 
Hatch year / Unknown
Buff wing bars; rectrices narrow and pointed, sometimes with retained buffy tips
Thumbnail - MG2-2550-83765-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3556.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2550-83765-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3554.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2550-83765-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3555.jpg
Date: Sep 30
After hatch year / Unknown
Whitish wing bars; rectrices relatively broad and rounded.
Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16214-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3559.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16214-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3557.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2600-16214-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3558.jpg
Date: Aug 4
Second year / Unknown
Distinct molt limits among the greater coverts and either among the tertials or between tertials and secondaries, with retained greater coverts having buffy tips; rectrices often either tapered or a mix of retained tapered and replaced rounded feathers, bu
Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43172-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3550.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43172-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3548.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2650-43172-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3549.jpg
Date: May 25
After second year / Unknown
Subtle molt limits among the greater coverts and either among the tertials or between tertials and secondaries, with retained greater coverts having yellowish tips; rectrices all relatively broad and rounded.
Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40489-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3553.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40489-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3551.jpg Thumbnail - MG2-2460-40489-Empidonax_minimus_AOU_7_52-3552.jpg
Date: May 10

Additional age / sex class descriptions

The following additional age / sex class descriptions were found for this species:
Age / Sex   Age / Sex class description
Juvenile / Unknown Buff wing bars; rectrices narrow and pointed, with buffy tips
Number of species: 80

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