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.
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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 Will Reshape the Range of the Pacific-slope Flycatcher

Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.

Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.

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.

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