Bird GuideTyrant FlycatchersBuff-breasted Flycatcher
Buff-breasted Flycatcher
Empidonax fulvifrons

At a Glance

Of our eleven little Empidonax flycatchers, this is the smallest and the easiest to identify by color. It is also the one with the most limited range in our area, nesting in only a few canyons in Arizona. At one time, this species ranged more widely in the southwest. It favors open, grassy pine forest, a habitat maintained by occasional forest fires; fire prevention may have reduced the number of Buff-breasted Flycatchers north of the border.
Category
Perching Birds, Tyrant Flycatchers
Conservation
Low Concern
Habitat
Arroyos and Canyons, Forests and Woodlands
Region
Southwest
Behavior
Flitter, Hovering
Population
2.000.000

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

Summer resident in Arizona, arriving in early April and departing in September. In Mexico, may regularly move to lower elevations in winter.

Description

4 1/2 -5" (11-13 cm). Smaller, paler, and browner than most Empidonax flycatchers. Unique pale buff wash on chest (may be hard to see on faded midsummer birds).
Size
About the size of a Robin, About the size of a Sparrow
Color
Brown, Orange, Red, Tan, White
Wing Shape
Rounded
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

Songs and Calls

Song is a quick chicky-whew. Call is a dull pit.
Call Pattern
Flat, Undulating
Call Type
Chirp/Chip

Habitat

Open pine woods. In Arizona, breeds in open areas in the mountains between elevations of 6,000-9,000'. Mostly in pines and oaks with very open, grassy understory. Tends to be concentrated along canyons, near trees growing along streams. In Mexico, summers in open pine woods, may winter in streamside trees at lower elevations.

Behavior

Eggs

3-4, sometimes 2, rarely 5. Creamy white. Incubation is by female only, 14-16 days. Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 15-17 days after hatching. For several days after fledging, young stay close together, are fed by parents.

Young

Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest about 15-17 days after hatching. For several days after fledging, young stay close together, are fed by parents.

Feeding Behavior

Forages by watching from a perch, then flying out to capture insects, then returning to the same perch or a new one. May forage high or low. Captures insects in mid-air, or takes them from foliage while hovering; may also drop to the ground to capture food there.

Diet

Insects. Diet is not known in detail. Apparently feeds only on small insects and other arthropods, including ants, wasps, true bugs, beetles, moths, spiders, and others.

Nesting

Often nests in loose colonies. Male sings to defend nesting territory. Courtship behavior involves male and female exploring potential nest sites together. Nest site is in tree (often in pine), either at base of branch against trunk or well out on horizontal branch, averaging about 25' above the ground. Usually placed directly under an overhanging branch or group of leaves. Nest (built by female only) is open cup of spiderwebs, rootlets, and leaves, the outside decorated with lichens, leaves, flakes of bark, and feathers. Lined with fine grasses, feathers, pine needles.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

Arizona population may be only a few dozen pairs, but thought to be gradually increasing after a low point in the late 1960s. Fire may help create more nesting habitat.