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This Piratic Flycatcher Legatus leucophaius - found by Gene Blacklock the day before -was photographed at Pollywog Pond, Corpus Christi, Nueces County, Texas on May 04, 2008; separation of Piratic Flycatcher (PIRFL) from Variegated Flycatcher (VARFL) is an issue since a handful of each taxon have been documented in Canada and the U.S. (c. 5 VARFL; c. 10 PIRFL) - I've provided some text on this ID issue below the photos of this recent Corpus bird:






Below I have summarized the differences between PIRFL and VARL, as gleaned from field guides, photographs, and personal communications; NOTE: please email me if you feel that this table contains errors or is misleading, thanks:

Feature Piratic Flycatcher Variegated Flycatcher
size (BOSA; BOE; BOP; BONSA) in inches 5.75; 5.75; 6; c.5.9 7-7.25; 7.25; 6.5-7; c.7.1
bill short, broad, all-dark with bulge of feathering onto underside of mandible medium, not broad, contrastingly paler at base of mandible with no bulge of feathering on underside of mandible
face pattern moustacial stripes start narrow, flaring in lower half; dark mask broad such that depth of mask below the eye is about equal to the depth of the eye (or broader) moustacial stripes wedge-shaped, starting to broaden almsot immediately; dark mask narrow such that depth of mask below the eye less than half the depth of the eye
upperparts unstreaked brown or brown-olive - never looks rather marbled of grizzled and at most has very fine indistinct partial pale fringing on some feathers, only visible at close range and then looking scaly rather than streaked with variably distinct pale grayish blurry streaks - often looks rather marbled or grizzled even at a distance, appearing softly streaked rather than scaled
tail short; thin rufous edging to uppertail coverts and outer edges at the base of the tail feathers; juveniles can show more extensive rufous edging in the tail longish; uppertail coverts with broad conspicuous rufous fringes, also rufous edging in tail feathers thicker and more extensive
wing coverts typically with thin pale distal fringing; when worn, lacks wing bars - somewhat similar to a Wood-Pewee. NOTE: some individuals may have thicker tips, almost matching the average for VARFL when fresh has thick pale tips to coverts forming obvious wing bars; when worn can appear almost as thin as fresh bars of PIRFL - somewhat similar to Empids
primary tips outer four primaries with obvious but "normal" emargination such that each tip is broad - virtually the same width as the inner primaries and secondaries outer four primaries with severe emargination such that each feather ends in a short narrow "finger" - much narrower than the tips of the inner primaries and secondaries - somewhat like the outer primaries of a Buteo hawk, or the outermost primary of a male Broad-tailed Hummingbird
folded primaries and secondaries averages less distinct pale edging on secondaries, and no rufous tinge to basal edges of primaries averages more distinct pale edging on secondaries, and often with a rufous tinge to basal edges of primaries
     

BOSA = Birds of South America vol 1; suboscine passerines
BOE = Birds of Ecuador
BOP = Birds of Peru
BONSA = Birds of Northern South America


Thanks to Chris Benesh I can show you some images that demonstrate some of the above features:

Piratic Flycatcher Variegated Flycatcher

- note the broad-tipped outer primaries of the right wing



- note the pointed outer primaries of the left wing

- note the bulge of feathering into the base of the mandible

- note no bulge of feathering into the base of the mandible