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 2020. Surveys were completed at four locations: three downstream from Lake Henshaw, where nest monitoring occurred from 2015 to 2019 (Rey River Ranch [RRR], Cleveland National Forest [CNF], Vista Irrigation District [VID]), and one at VID Lake Henshaw (VLH) that was previously surveyed in 2018 and 2019. There were 62 territorial flycatchers detected at 3 locations (RRR, CNF, VLH); no flycatchers were detected at VID. Within the former nest monitoring study area, 11 flycatchers, including 5 males and 6 females, were detected at RRR and CNF. In total, seven territories were established, consisting of six pairs (two polygynous groups consisting of two males each pairing with two different females) and one male of undetermined breeding status. Upstream from the former nest monitoring study area at VLH, we detected 51 flycatchers, including 24 males and 27 females. There were 28 territories established, containing 27 pairs (23 monogamous pairings and 4 confirmed polygynous pairings consisting of 1 male and 2 females) and 1 male of undetermined breeding status. Brown-headed cowbirds (Molothrus ater; cowbird) were detected at all four survey locations.
Flycatchers used four different habitat types in the survey area: (1) mixed willow riparian, (2) willow-oak, (3) willow-ash, and (4) willow-sycamore. Eighty percent of the flycatchers were detected in habitat characterized as mixed willow riparian, and 83 percent of the flycatchers were detected in habitat with greater than 50-percent native plant cover. Exotic vegetation was not prevalent in the survey area.
There were 17 flycatcher nests incidentally located during surveys: 2 were successful, 3 were seen with nestlings on the last visit, 10 failed, and the outcome of the remaining 2 nests was unknown. Five of these nests were parasitized by cowbirds. There were 10 juveniles detected during surveys: 2 at RRR and 8 at VLH.
Of the 17 banded flycatchers detected during surveys, 8 were resighted and confirmed to be adults that held territories in previous years. Seven flycatchers with a single dark blue federal band, indicating that they were banded as nestlings in the former nest monitoring study area downstream from Lake Henshaw, were resighted during surveys; 86 percent of these “natal” flycatchers held territories at VLH.
In 2020, we documented both adult and natal flycatchers moving from the former nest monitoring study area downstream from Lake Henshaw upstream to the habitat surrounding Lake Henshaw. Six natal flycatchers that were originally banded as nestlings and two adults that previously held territories downstream dispersed to Lake Henshaw in 2020.
|Title||Distribution and abundance of Southwestern Willow Flycatchers (Empidonax traillii extimus) on the upper San Luis Rey River, San Diego County, California—2020 data summary|
|Authors||Scarlett L. Howell, Barbara E. Kus|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Data Series|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Western Ecological Research Center|