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Cordilleran Flycatcher

Empidonax occidentalis

Length: 5.5 inches Wingspan: 8.5 inches Seasonality: Summer / Migrant
ID Keys: Greenish tinge on upperparts, pale yellow throat and underparts, teardrop shaped eyering.  Extremely similar to Pacific-slope Flycatcher.

Cordilleran Flycatcher - Empidonax occidentalisThe Cordilleran Flycatcher is yet another confusing Empidonax flycatcher, so much so that it and the almost identical Pacific-slope Flycatcher were once considered to be the same species, called the "Western Flycatcher".  They differ only in their normal ranges, and in minor variations in voice.  Females of the two species are largely only identifiable by range.  The Pacific-slope Flycatcher is not found in South Dakota, however.

Habitat: They prefer deciduous forest in the mountains of the West, preferably along streams and rivers.  They will often forage in conifer groves, but aren't nearly as common in pure conifer forests.

Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on insects.  Also will eat spiders, and occasionally berries and seeds.

Behavior: Often feeds in typical flycatcher manner, watching from a perch and flying out to capture insects in mid-air.  They will feed at nearly any height in the forest canopy.  They also may glean food items from foliage, or capture insects from vegetation while hovering.

Nesting: June and July

Song: A broken pit-peet song, with the 2nd note higher than the first.

Migration: Summers in and near mountains of the western United States and Mexico.  Winters in Mexico.  The Black Hills of South Dakota represent the furthest eastern extent of the species range.

Interactive eBird Map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of Cordilleran Flycatcher sightings

Similar Species: Pacific-slope Flycatcher, as well as other Empidonax flycatchers.

Conservation Status: Appears to be stable throughout most of its range.

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

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

3) Cordilleran Flycatcher

Photo Information: July 6th, 2008 - Along Grace Coolidge Creek in the Black Hills - Terry Sohl

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


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Cordilleran Flycatcher - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Uncommon summer breeder in the Black Hills.  Accidental elsewhere in the state.

Additional Cordilleran Flycatcher Photos
Click for a higher-resolution version of these photos
Cordilleran Flycatcher - Empidonax occidentalis Cordilleran Flycatcher - Empidonax occidentalis