Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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[Mystery bird] African Grey Flycatcher, also known as the Large Flycatcher, Bradornis microrhynchus, photographed in the Pangani River Camp, Tanzania, Africa. [I will identify this bird for you in 48 hours]

Image: Dan Logen, January 2010 [larger view].

Nikon D300, 600 mm lens, ISO 500, 1/320 sec, f/8, Exposure compensation -1.

Please name at least one field mark that supports your identification.

Review all mystery birds to date.

Comments

  1. #1 David Hilmy
    February 28, 2010

    hmmm, with 58 species from the family Muscicapidae, this mat take some work… my first impression is that this is a rather “dull” species that may certainly be “outside the standards of normal decency”…

  2. #2 David Hilmy
    February 28, 2010

    but with the faint streaks on the crown (really only visible when one enlares this photo) I’m probably sticking to the “dull” genus but calling this the one that prefers drier habitat, and unlike many ostentatious Romans in the Forum, declaring this only from a rather “small rostrum”…

  3. #3 adw
    February 28, 2010

    This is a tricky one. Based on a the clean breast and streaked cap I’m going to guess it’s an African Grey Flycatcher (Bradornis microrhynchus). I think the lack of streaking or spots on the breast rules out the genus muscicapa and the very similar Pale flycatcher doesn’t have a streaked cap.

  4. #4 Kim Birmingham
    February 28, 2010

    OK David, I think you nailed this one too- “small rostrum” = microrhynchus? (But I don’t get the other clues- “decency” or the Forum!)

  5. #5 David Hilmy
    February 28, 2010

    LOL Kim, I’m afraid my rather obtuse puns and “academic” clues are probably extremely frustrating for those such as Adrian, John, etc. (and very probably “Annoyed”) but my original comment suggested it might be Bradornis pallidus, where Bradornis actually comes from the Greek βραδύς (“bradus”) meaning “dull” or “slow” and my quip of it being “outside the standrads of normal decency” could be rewritten as “beyond the pale” (pallidus), but when I looked at the enlarged photo and saw the streaked crown, I changed my id, sticking with Bradornis but then adding microryhnchus, the “small rostrum” which plays on the origins of the word “rostrum” which was the sepking platform in the Roman Forum which happened to be decorated with birds’ beaks!

    So indeed, this is very probably the African Grey Flycatcher (microryhnchus) as opposed to the Pale Flycatcher (pallidus).

  6. #6 No one
    February 28, 2010

    So why is this not a Muscicapa – not all of them have mottled, streaked or spotted breasts, or even a spotted crown? Why is this a Bradornis?

  7. #7 No one
    February 28, 2010

    So why is this not a Muscicapa – not all of them have mottled, streaked or spotted breasts, or even a spotted crown? Why is this a Bradornis?

  8. #8 David Hilmy
    February 28, 2010

    Good point, No one…

    There are six species from the genus Muscicapa found in Tanzania, of those six: the Spotted (M. striata) has streaking on the breast, as does Boehm’s (M. boehmi), and the Sooty (M. infuscata); the Bluegrey (M. caerulescens) is as described, blue above and grey below; the Dusky (M. adusta) seems to have a lot more yellow on the lower mandible but more obviously, also has no streaking on the forehead; and the Swamp (M. aquatica) has a rather obvious dark band across the breast…