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The Arizona Crested Flycatcher as a Bird of California

Donald R. Dickey
Publication Information
4 (July-August)
From Field and Study

The Arizona Crested Flycatcher as a Bird of California

On May 17, 1921, Mrs. May Canfield collected two Arizona Crested Flycatchers (Myiarchus magister magister) in the bottomlands of the Colorado River, near Bard, Imperial County, California. These specimens which are now numbered J 1071 and J 1072 in my collection, are of particular interest, since they constitute the first record of the appearance and capture of this species in California.

In connection with this record, it is of interest to note that the birds were collected in an indigenous willow-cottonwood association bordering cultivated fields. Too much stress must not be placed, however, upon the difference between this environment and the giant cactus association in which Mr. H. S. Swarth (Pacific Coast Avlfauna, no. 10, 1914, pp. 40-41) found these birds nesting in southeastern Arizona, and to which he considered the species restricted, at least in that section. The date of the present capture is a dangerous one to conjure with when the breeding or migrational status of a species is in question. There are isolated groves of this same sahuaro cactus (Cereus gzganteus) only a few miles distant from our California record station. In the migration of many species, the males precede the females. The collection of two males, instead of a mated pair, may theretore well suggest the probability that these birds were simply on the move to nesting sites m the sahuaros, a bit farther to the north.

From Mr. Swarth’s experience, and from our own, it is perhaps permissible to predict that the range of this species will ultimately prove to be delimited in California oy the northern and western outposts of this cactus within our borders. The foothold of tne sahuaro in California is admittedly precarious. If the summer range of magister should be found to be coincident with the distribution of this cactus, and if the latter should be extirpated by the agency of man, or otherwise, it would be interesting to note, as the years go by, whether the flycatcher in question has sufficient associational plasticity to adapt itself to the changed ecological condition, or whether it would retreat, in that event, to the sahuaros of Arizona.

Donald R. Dickey

Pasadena, California, April 25, 1922

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