Photo: Brian E. Small/Vireo

Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher

Myiodynastes luteiventris

One of the last spring migrants to arrive in southern Arizona, the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher brings an unmistakable touch of the tropics. Colorful, strongly patterned, and noisy, it seems far more exotic than most of the drab North American flycatchers. Its shrill calls, sounding like rusty hinges or squeaky rubber toys, are typical sounds of summer among the sycamores in lower canyons near the Mexican border.
Conservation status In its limited range in the United States, numbers seem stable or possibly increasing.
Family Tyrant Flycatchers
Habitat Sycamore-walnut canyons. In our area, found mainly in lower parts of canyons in the mountains, where tall sycamores and other trees grow along streams through pine-oak forest. Also locally in sycamores and cottonwoods along streams at lower elevations. In the tropics, found in open woods, groves, and forest edges.
One of the last spring migrants to arrive in southern Arizona, the Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher brings an unmistakable touch of the tropics. Colorful, strongly patterned, and noisy, it seems far more exotic than most of the drab North American flycatchers. Its shrill calls, sounding like rusty hinges or squeaky rubber toys, are typical sounds of summer among the sycamores in lower canyons near the Mexican border.
Photo Gallery
  • adult
  • adult
Feeding Behavior

Forages by watching from a perch, then flying out to capture insects. Usually forages fairly high, perching on a twig within the shady upper levels of a tree. Flies out and hovers while taking an insect from foliage or branches, or may catch insects in mid-air.


Eggs

3-4. White to pale buff, heavily spotted with reddish brown. Incubation is by female only, 15-16 days. Young: Both parents bring food to nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 16-18 days.


Young

Both parents bring food to nestlings. Age of young at first flight about 16-18 days.

Diet

Mostly insects. Diet is not known in detail, but feeds mainly on insects, probably including large caterpillars, beetles, katydids, and others. Also eats some small fruits and berries.


Nesting

In courtship, male and female perch close together, shaking their heads back and forth and calling in duet. Very aggressive during the nesting season, pairs of Sulphur-bellies may compete for choice cavities with other hole-nesting birds, even Elegant Trogons. Nests mainly in mid-summer in Arizona, most eggs probably hatching in July. Nest site in Arizona is usually in large natural cavity of sycamore, 20-50' above the ground. Female builds nest. If cavity is deep, she fills it most of the way with twigs and bark strips, then builds nest on top of this foundation, mostly of fine leaf stems and pine needles.

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

Migration

A long-distance migrant, going to South America for the winter. Arrives in Arizona in late May or early June, and departs for the south in September.

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Migration

A long-distance migrant, going to South America for the winter. Arrives in Arizona in late May or early June, and departs for the south in September.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Loud, shrill peet-chee calls, sounding like squeaking wagon wheels, uttered by single bird or pair in duet. Male has soft tre-le-re-re song.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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