Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Scientific name: Empidonax Traillii Extimus
Classification: Perching bird
Size: Length - approximately 15 cm (about 6 inches), Weight - approximately 11 grams



The upper parts are brownish-olive, breast pale olive, belly pale yellow, and throat white. The bill is depressed with a wide base. Two light wing bars are visible and a conspicuous eye-ring is lacking. The song is similar to other willow flycatchers and consists of a “fitzbew”, “whit”, and “spritt".



Southwestern willow flycatchers are found in lowland riparian habitats generally supporting dense stands of intermediate-sized trees or shrubs including gooding willow, coyote willow, boxelder, and tamarisk, usually with water or moist soil present below the canopy or nearby.



The southwestern willow flycatcher breeds in the southwestern united states and winters further south to northwestern Colombia.


Natural history:

Southwestern willow flycatchers are diurnal and migratory.


Food habits:

Insects are the main food item, caught mostly in flight but also gleaned from vegetation. Examples include wasps, bees, beetles, flies, moths, caterpillars, flying ants, spittlebugs, and spiders. Larger prey items like butterflies and dragonflies are killed and softened before being eaten by beating them against a perch. Berries are also eaten occasionally.



Nesting occurs in late may to august. The nest is located among dense vegetation in a tree. The female incubates 2 to 4 eggs for 12 to 15 days. Both parents tend the young, which leave the nest after another 12 to 15 days. The birds are sometimes polygamous. Typically, one brood is raised per year.



The southwestern willow flycatcher has been listed as endangered under the federal endangered species act since February 27, 1995.


Reason for status:

The southwestern willow flycatcher has been listed as endangered under the federal endangered species act since February 27, 1995.


Management & conservation:

Restoration of riparian habitat and proper management of cattle grazing are beneficial to the southwestern willow flycatcher. Population surveys are currently being conducted by the Nevada department of wildlife and other state and federal agencies. Cooperative conservation efforts between landowners and state and federal land managers are essential to achieving successful protection and expansion of Nevada’s population of southwestern willow flycatchers.


Fun facts:

  • Flycatchers are beneficial to humans in that they consume large quantities of insects.
  • The southwestern willow flycatcher is a member of the empidonax flycatchers which, as a group are the most difficult to distinguish among all the birds in the western hemisphere.