Photo: Trish Gussler/Flickr Creative Commons

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Empidonax difficilis

In humid woods along the Pacific Coast, this little flycatcher is very common in summer. It favors deep shade, often in the groves along streams; it often places its beautiful mossy nest under a bridge or under the eaves of a cabin in the woods. This species and the Cordilleran Flycatcher are almost identical except for callnotes and range, and were regarded as one species (called "Western Flycatcher") until the late 1980s.
Conservation status May be affected by cutting of forests in northwest; however, still widespread and common.
Family Tyrant Flycatchers
Habitat Moist woods, mixed forests, shady canyons. Breeds in wet forested regions. Often common in zones of coniferous forest, but there it seems to concentrate in deciduous growth, such as maples and alders, along streams. Also found in canyon groves of oak, sycamore, or willow. May tend to be in wetter forest than Cordilleran Flycatcher.
In humid woods along the Pacific Coast, this little flycatcher is very common in summer. It favors deep shade, often in the groves along streams; it often places its beautiful mossy nest under a bridge or under the eaves of a cabin in the woods. This species and the Cordilleran Flycatcher are almost identical except for callnotes and range, and were regarded as one species (called "Western Flycatcher") until the late 1980s.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages by watching from a perch, at any level within shady parts of the forest, and then flying out to catch insects in the air. Also takes some food (such as caterpillars and spiders) from foliage or twigs while hovering.


Eggs

3-4, rarely 5. Whitish, with brown blotches concentrated near larger end. Incubation is by female only, about 14-15 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 14-18 days.


Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 14-18 days.

Diet

Mostly insects. Differences in diet between this bird and Cordilleran Flycatcher poorly known. For the two species combined, diet is mostly insects, including small wasps, bees, flies, true bugs, caterpillars, moths, beetles, and others. Also eaten are spiders, and a few berries and seeds.


Nesting

In the Pacific northwest, this species and Hammond's Flycatcher may defend territories against each other. Nest site is sometimes in the fork of a small tree, but usually in other situations: in a cleft of a vertical streambank, on a stump, among the upturned roots of a fallen tree, under a small bridge, or on rafters in a shed. Natural sites are usually near (or on) the ground, but on artificial structures the nest may be more than 10' up. Nest (built by female) is cup of moss, grass, rootlets, strips of bark, lichens, and leaves, lined with finer material such as plant fibers, hair, feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

During migration, occurs commonly in the lowlands of southern Arizona, on its way to and from mainland Mexico. Winters mostly in the lowlands of western and southern Mexico.

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Migration

During migration, occurs commonly in the lowlands of southern Arizona, on its way to and from mainland Mexico. Winters mostly in the lowlands of western and southern Mexico.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Quite distinct, rising pseet-ptsick-seet. First part alone is often used as a call, or is repeated on a drawn-out, almost sibilant high pitch. Second part is rapid and louder. Call note a sharp pit-peet.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
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How climate change could affect this bird's range

In the broadest and most detailed study of its kind, Audubon scientists have used hundreds of thousands of citizen-science observations and sophisticated climate models to predict how birds in the U.S. and Canada will react to climate change.

Learn more

Read more: climate.audubon.org
Tyrant Flycatchers Perching Birds

Pacific-slope Flycatcher

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season.

More on reading these maps.

Each map is a visual guide to where a particular bird species may find the climate conditions it needs to survive in the future. We call this the bird’s “climatic range.”

The colors indicate the season in which the bird may find suitable conditions— blue for winter, yellow for summer (breeding), and green for where they overlap (indicating their presence year-round).

The darker the shaded area, the more likely it is the bird species will find suitable climate conditions to survive there.

The outline of the approximate current range for each season remains fixed in each frame, allowing you to compare how the range will expand, contract, or shift in the future.

The first frame of the animation shows where the bird can find a suitable climate today (based on data from 2000). The next three frames predict where this bird’s suitable climate may shift in the future—one frame each for 2020, 2050, and 2080.

You can play or pause the animation with the orange button in the lower left, or select an individual frame to study by clicking on its year.

The darker the color, the more favorable the climate conditions are for survival. The outlined areas represent approximate current range for each season. More on reading these maps.
Winter
Summer

Winter Range
Summer Range
Both Seasons
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