Confounding Empids IV

November 8, 2011
The Empidonax seem to have gone.  I saw what I believe was a Pewee at the little river today.  Even though I didn't hear the bird call, it just didn't behave like my little unidentifiable friends. It sat lower on it's feet and sallied out to return to fairly high and exposed preferred spots. When it returned, there was no wing shuffling and it didn't lift it's tail except once; a slight tail lift for a second. Balancing rather than a lift?  Now that I am a bit educated on the Empids here, I will keep an eye out this winter.  The Alder is supposed to be gone from Panama in winter. The Acadian is supposed to winter here and is the most common Empid in the canal area.  I guess I just must have missed them last winter.
I really believe that what I have been seeing so much of every day this month was the Alder. I have not seen one since the 28th and I miss them. I have also not seen or heard a Northern Waterthrush my last few outings.  Indigo Buntings and Blue Grosbeaks seem to have filled the void.
This guy was perched higher than usual and more exposed,although he came from a shrubbier area and flew up into the palm after he saw me.
When  I put some photos up on BirdForum for help, a few birders came back saying that depending on the photos it might be possible to ID a Willow/Alder with images. They gave links to a very complex formula for measuring wings and bills. However, it was pointed out somewhere that measurements of the birds could be overlapping and extreme birds of either species could measure as each other. It seemed too complex for this simple naturalist's pea-brain and I ruled that ID method out.
That was then.....I have a fairly good shots of a few Emps now with tail feathers spread and bill at a measurable angle. Of course it couldn't be the wings spread. 
As I was contemplating editing the photos and getting out the micrometer, some Arlo Guthrie words popped from the folds of my aging grey matter:
'8x10' glossy, color photos with circles and arrows on the back of each one.'  The Imps have driven me over the edge.  I will wait for ID.  There are no Alders in California and I'm pretty sure there are areas in the East where there are no Willows. Patience is a virtue.

Here is an October 28, 2011 note that I never posted (written on 29th):
The Empids are still here, still silent.  I have come to terms with the fact that I will not get to list them and I am just enjoing watching them.  Yesterday, I was watching one perched on a chain link fence.  I was willing him to talk when left his perch and flew across the field the fence surrounds.  I watched him as he dive-bombed another Empid sitting on the fence on the other side. There was loud bill-snapping and wings flapping as they fell toward the ground locked in battle.  They broke apart before hitting the ground.  One flew into the trees of the forest and the second was in hot pursuit.

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