South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Least Flycatcher

Empidonax minimus

Length: 5.25 inches Wingspan: 8 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Grayish above, lighter below, white throat, pale yellow undertail coverts.  See note below regarding Empidonax flycatchers.

Least Flycatcher - Empidonax minimusLeast Flycatchers are one of the most common small flycatchers that can be found in the state.  It is often seen in the open, singing its repetitive song.  The Least Flycatcher belongs to a group of 11 "Empidonax" flycatchers, all of which are very similar and difficult to separate.  Voice, behavior, and location are often the best clues in differentiating the species.

Habitat: Mixed habitat with trees and open areas, including woodland edges and clearings, residential areas, parks, and orchards.

Diet: Mostly insects, occasionally berries, other fruit, and seeds.

Behavior: Observes from a perch and flies out to capture passing insects in mid-air.  They will also hover and glean insects from foliage and branches.

Nesting: June and July

Breeding Map: Breeding bird survey map

Song: Least Flycatcher Song

Migration: Summers in much of Canada, the northern third of the U.S., and the Appalachians in the U.S. east.    Much rarer in the western part of the continent however.  Neotropical migrant, but a few can occasionally be found overwintering in Florida.

Similar Species: Very similar to the other Empidonax flycatchers.  The species are all best separated by voice and range, as wells as very minor plumage or structural differences.

Conservation Status: Surveys show declines in recent decades, primarily in the southern part of their breeding range, but overall populations are still healthy and widespread.

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, Least Flycatcher

2) Cornell University's "All About Birds - Least Flycatcher"

3) eNature.com: Least Flycatcher

Photo Information: May 26th, 2003 -- Ditch Road in Minnehaha County -- Terry Sohl

Additional Photos: Click on the image chips or text links below for additional, higher-resolution Least Flycatcher photos.

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Least Flycatcher - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant in the eastern part of the state, uncommon in the west.  Uncommon breeder in the eastern part of the state.