Collared Flycatcher Part 3

Spurn Surprise

Bit of a shocker! I am talking about the ficedula flycatcher at Spurn from 30th August to 1st September 2010. It went and got its DNA done. Thanks to Ben Sheldon’s direction and the sterling work of  Holger Schielzeth (and Reija Dufva) at the Department of Evolutionary Biology at Uppsala University. A couple of small feathers were used to analyse DNA.

This is the bird:

preliminary results and comments from Holger as follows:


“… we’ve got genotypes for four markers. The genotypes are from two chromosomes each.  4/8 are clearly Collared and none is clearly Pied. The other two fall in the range of overlap. I think, it is safe to conclude that this is not a Pied. It could still be a hybrid, but it fits so well with a pure Collared Flycatcher, that I think its most likely a pure Collared. At least there is no indication that this is a hybrid. I wanted to get more information on the allele frequency distribution for the two species to give you probabilities for hybrid versus Collared.  Nevertheless, I wanted to inform you about the our first results…”

This is not the last word on this bird! I still have questions and Holger has yet to finish his analysis. Intriguing nevertheless…we are still learning. Surprising even to me that it’s genes at least are so strongly in the ‘Collared zone’, even if the ‘hybrid’ possibility is still in the air.

3 thoughts on “Collared Flycatcher Part 3

  1. thedrunkbirder

    It makes you think doesn’t it? Just how many ‘Pied’ Fly’s do we dismiss as just that, a Pied Flycatcher? I fully intend to spend a lot more time on ‘common’ birds in future in the hope of digging something out. It’s easier with some than others… I doubt a distant ‘Velvet Scoter’ could be made into anything else but some of those birds that come close inshore at places like Musselburgh must be worth a good look…


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