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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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

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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

See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.

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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.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the Sulphur-bellied 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 Near You

Climate threats facing the Sulphur-bellied 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.