We surveyed for Southwestern Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus; flycatcher) along the upper San Luis Rey River near Lake Henshaw in Santa Ysabel, California, in 2022. Surveys were completed at four locations: three downstream from Lake Henshaw, where surveys occurred from 2015 to 2021 (Rey River Ranch [RRR], Cleveland National Forest [CNF], Vista Irrigation District [VID]), and one at VID Lake Henshaw (VLH) that has been surveyed annually since 2018. There were 71 territorial flycatchers detected at 3 locations (RRR, CNF, VLH), and 6 transient flycatchers of unknown subspecies detected at VID and VLH. Downstream from Lake Henshaw, four territorial flycatchers, including two males and two females, were detected at RRR and CNF. In total, two territories were established consisting of two pairs at these locations. At VLH, we detected 67 territorial flycatchers, including 30 males, 34 females, and 3 flycatchers of unknown sex. In total, 40 territories were established, containing 35 pairs (24 monogamous pairings and 5 polygynous groups consisting of 4 males each pairing with 2 different females, and 1 male pairing with 3 different females), and 5 flycatchers of undetermined breeding status (3 males and 2 flycatchers of unknown sex). Brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater; cowbird) were detected at all four survey locations.
Flycatchers used five habitat types in the survey area: (1) mixed willow riparian, (2) willow-cottonwood, (3) willow-oak, (4) willow-ash, and (5) oak-sycamore. Of the flycatcher locations, 83 percent were located in habitat characterized as mixed willow riparian, and 92 percent were in habitat with greater than 95-percent native plant cover. Exotic vegetation was not prevalent in the survey area.
There were 22 nests incidentally located during surveys: 5 were successful, 1 was seen with eggs on the last visit, 10 failed, and the outcome of the remaining 6 nests was unknown. Three of these nests were parasitized by cowbirds. There were 13 juveniles detected at VLH; no juveniles were detected at RRR or CNF.
Five banded flycatchers were detected during surveys, three of which were confirmed to be adults that held territories in previous years. In addition, two flycatchers with a single dark blue federal band, indicating that they were banded as nestlings in a previous demographic study downstream from Lake Henshaw (Howell and others, 2022), were resighted during surveys.
|Title||Distribution and abundance of Southwestern Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus) on the upper San Luis Rey River, San Diego County, California—2022 data summary|
|Authors||Scarlett L. Howell, Barbara E. Kus|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Data Report|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|