Return of Bird of the Week: Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Costa Rica

Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher, Costa Rica

WC has by no means exhausted the genus Empidonax, but he suspects he has long since exhausted his readers’ patience with little brown jobs that look pretty much the same. We’ll stay with flycatchers, but shift to some more visually interesting species for a while.

Late on one afternoon, birding along a dirt road in the cloud forests in Costa Rica, almost by accident, WC found his first Long-tailed Silky Flycatcher. What followed was pretty maddening. My Olympus E-5 DSLR camera simply could not acquire a sharp focus. It turns out that all autofocus systems have trouble acquiring sharp focus on silky flycatchers. There’s something about the feather structure that confuses autofocus technology. You see the same problem, to a lesser extent, on waxwings. So The first image above is manual focus.

Log-tailed Silky Flycatcher, using autofocus

Log-tailed Silky Flycatcher, using autofocus, female or juvenile

The second image is autofocus. You can see the problem. Perhaps on WC’s next trip to Central America he can attempt autofocus with his Canon 1D-X. We’ll see.

Silky-flycatchers are omnivorous, not just eating insects but also small fruits and berries. Although the species’ range is limited to Central American highlands, it’s fairly common in the mountains where it lives. The range is wide enough that it is classified as a species of least concern. Reportedly, they forage in small flocks, but WC has only seen singles in the three times he has encountered the species. The male is about 24 centimeters long, including that handsome tail.

Silky Flycatchers have their own family. In North America, there’s only one species of that family of birds. We’ll get to that next week.

For more bird photographs, please visit Frozen Feather Images.