Saturday, June 8, 2013

South American Bird Spotted for First Time in Florida at the GTM Research Reserve

Variegated Flycatcher Last Seen at 8 P.M. Wednesday Near the Reserve’s Guana Dam 

Photo courtesy Diane Reed,  GTM Research Reserve Volunteer 

PONTE VEDRA BEACH– The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve (GTM Research Reserve) has documented a sighting of the Variegated Flycatcher bird (Empidonomus varius) Wednesday afternoon, June 5 near the Reserve’s Guana Dam, the first such viewing of the bird in Florida and less than five times in the United States.

Research shows the Variegated Flycatcher has never been seen before in Florida and less than 10 times in North America. The bird was spotted by volunteer Diane Reed and was last seen around 8 p.m. Wednesday night near the Reserve’s day-use bath house in between the Reserve’s Environmental Education Center and the Guana Dam. Reed reports that the bird was spotted above the dam dumpster on a power line.

This sighting is an American Birding Association Code 5, making it a very rare occurrence. Code 5 sightings indicate that the bird is an accidental to the area and has been reported less than five times in the ABA Area. The ABA area covers North America, north of Mexico. According to the Audubon Society, the Variegated Flycatcher’s range extends to Northern South America, east of the Andes. One subspecies of the flycatcher is a long-distance migrant, which occasionally seems to migrate past its usual range.

Photo courtesy Lauren Flynn,
GTM Research Reserve Employee

Photo courtesy Diane Reed,
GTM Research Reserve 

The GTM Research Reserve encompasses more than 74,000 acres in northeast Florida. Guana Dam is open 7 days a week from 4 a.m. – 11 p.m. Please note there is an admission fee of $3 per vehicle (up to 8 people).