On September 28, Bill Beaty found an ABA Code 5 Variegated Flycatcher on South Padre Island, Cameron County, Texas. This would be the 7th record for the ABA Area and the 1st for Texas.
The bird was seen at the South Padre Island Birding and Nature Center, typically hanging out around the front of the building and the parking lot area. It was seen until dark on the 28th.
Variegated Flycatcher, Empidonomus varius, is a tropical South American species and the nominate subspecies, varius, is a long-distant austral migrant which winters in northern South America and the western Amazon basin.
There are six previous records of this species in the ABA Area previously, literally from all corners of the continent. The first ABA-Area record of this species was one photographed at Biddeford Pool, Maine in 1977. Subsequent records have come from Obion, Tennessee (1984), Toronto, Ontario (1993), Franklin, Washington (2008), and two records from Florida, St. John’s (2013) and Broward (2015).
Variegated Flycatcher is very similar to another vagrant flycatcher, Piratic Flycatcher. In fact, the first report of Variegated in Florida was subsequently determined to be Piratic. For visual comparisons between Variegated and Piratic Flycatchers, Martin Reid’s website (follow the link) has excellent photos and a study of the two species.