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Alder Flycatcher

Empidonax alnorum

Length: 5.75 inches Wingspan: 8.5 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Large bill, olive-colored back, white throat, white wing-bars. Like other Empidonax Flycatchers, best ID'd by voice.

Alder Flycatcher - Empidonax alnorumThe Alder Flycatcher and the Willow Flycatcher were considered one species, the "Traill's Flycatcher", until the 1970s. Virtually identical in looks, they are only safely distinguished from each other by their different voices. Their ranges are quite different in summer, however, with the Alder Flycatcher found primarily in Canada and Alaska, while most Willow Flycatchers are found in the lower 48 states. Interestingly, while many bird species must learn their songs from their own species, Alder Flycatchers are born instinctively knowing their song.

Habitat: During the summer breeding season, they strongly prefer forest or thickets near water, especially in groves of willows or alders. During winter, they prefer woodland and woodland edges in the tropics, also near water.

Diet: Primarily feeds on insects, as well as spiders, fruits and berries, and occasionally small seeds.

Behavior: Forages like other flycatchers, by flying out from a perch and catching insect in mid-air.  Will also hover while gleaning insects from vegetation. 

Interactive eBird Map: Click to access an interactive eBird map of Alder Flycatcher sightings.

Song: The song is a buzzy free-beee-yeer, with an emphasis on the 2nd syllable.  The call is a bold peep.  Click to listen to the Alder Flycatcher's song, also the Alder Flycatcher's call.

Migration: Summers throughout much of Canada and Alaska, as well as the Great Lakes region and New England.  Winters in South America. 

Similar Species: Acadian Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher

Conservation Status: Numbers are probably stable.

Further Information: 1) Boreal Songbird Initiative - Alder Flycatcher

2) Audubon Field Guide - Alder Flycatcher

3) WhatBird - Alder Flycatcher

Photo Information: May 30th, 2005 -- Lake Thompson, Kingsbury County -- Terry L. Sohl

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


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view 
Alder Flycatcher - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon migrant, eastern part of the state only.

Additional Alder Flycatcher Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
 Alder Flycatcher - Empidonax alnorum Alder Flycatcher - Empidonax alnorum