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#ABArare – Nutting’s Flycatcher – Arizona

It’s back! A Nutting’s Flycatcher (Code 5) was found on Dec 18, 2011 at Mosquito Flats at Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) by Lauren Harter and David Vander Pluym. It was last reported on March 25, 2012. It (or another Nutting’s Flycather?) has now returned to the same area; Lauren Harter rediscovered it on Nov 30. You can read her account of the find and see additional photos at her blog.

ABArare Nutting's Harter 01

ABArare Nutting's Harter 02
photos by Lauren Harter

Bill Williams River NWR is located in western Arizona, about 20 miles southeast of Lake Havasu City. If you’re coming from Phoenix, head west on I-10 to Quartzsite and then go north on State Route 95. Continue through Parker and head towards Lake Havasu City. Turn right on Planet Ranch Rd, a dirt road on the south side of the Bill Williams River, northeast of the refuge headquarters. Drive to mile marker 2 on this road. The riparian area is right along the road on your left, and there are tall cliffs on your right. The flycatcher is in this area.

If you’re coming from Las Vegas, drive south on US 95 to I-40. Head east through Needles, CA and cross into AZ. Then take the exit for State Route 95 and go south to Lake Havasu City. Planet Ranch Rd is located south of Cattail Cove State Park. Cross Bill Williams River, turn left onto Planet Ranch Rd, and drive to mile marker 2 as above.

A map of the location is available here. (Click on the “satellite” box in the top right corner of the map to get a good view of the habitat distribution.)

Identification of Nutting’s and other Myiarchus flycatchers can be difficult. Call — a “wheep” — is the most reliable way to identify a Nutting’s. You can find recordings from last winter here, along with many excellent photographs and some other identification information.

Interestingly, there was another accepted record of a Nutting’s Flycatcher from this area on Sep 23, 2008. There are two other records from AZ: a specimen from Roosevelt Lake, Jan 8, 1952 and a bird seen by many at Patagonia Lake, Dec 14, 1997 to Mar 21, 1998. There are another two accepted records from other states: one at Irvine, CA, Nov 11, 2000 to Mar 26, 2001, and one at Big Bend National Park, TX from late Dec 2011 to mid-Jan 2012.


The ABA now has an official Facebook group, ABA Rare Bird Alert, for sharing sightings of notable vagrants and rarities. Follow reports of the Nutting’s Flycatcher and other ABA Area rarities by joining. If you are currently logged into Facebook, this link will take you to the group.

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John Puschock

John Puschock

John Puschock reports ABA rare bird alerts and manages #ABArare for the American Birding Association. John is a frequent participant in rare bird forums around the web and has knack for gathering details necessary to relocate birds. He has been a birder since 1984 and now leads tours for Bird Treks, as well as for his own company Zugunruhe Birding Tours. He has led tours to locations across North America, from Newfoundland to New Mexico and from Costa Rica to Alaska. He specializes in leading tours to Adak in the Aleutian Islands.
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