Bird GuideTyrant FlycatchersPacific-slope Flycatcher
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
Empidonax difficilis

At a Glance

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.
Perching Birds, Tyrant Flycatchers
Low Concern
Forests and Woodlands, High Mountains, Shrublands, Savannas, and Thickets
Alaska and The North, California, Northwest, Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Western Canada
Flitter, Hovering

Range & Identification

Migration & Range Maps

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.


5 1/2-6" (14-15 cm). Tinged greenish above, with distinct yellow wash on throat. Eye-ring extends behind eye in teardrop shape. From below, bill looks wide, with orange lower mandible. Visually identical to Cordilleran Flycatcher.
About the size of a Sparrow
Brown, Green, White, Yellow
Wing Shape
Tail Shape
Notched, Square-tipped

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.
Call Pattern
Flat, Rising
Call Type
Chirp/Chip, Hi, Whistle


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.



3-4, rarely 5. Whitish, with brown blotches concentrated near larger end. Incubation is by female only, about 14-15 days.


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

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.


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.


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.

Climate Vulnerability

Conservation Status

May be affected by cutting of forests in northwest; however, still widespread and common.

Climate Map

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect the range of the Pacific-slope Flycatcher. Learn even more in our Audubon’s Survival By Degrees project.

Climate Threats Facing the Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.