Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Hey guys welcome back. Another flycatcher. As we well know by now, flycatchers, particularly those in the genus Empidonax are notoriously difficult to identify. Well the yellow-bellied flycatcher doesn’t really have that issue. Pattern of the yellow-bellied is nearly identical to others in its genus, but color helps them stand apart. yellow-bellied flycatchers are noticeably yellowish overall, with dark wings, distinct wingbars, and bold eyering. They do get drabber in breeding season, but the only other flycatcher with this bold of an eyering is the smaller least flycatcher.

Yellow-bellied flycatcher. Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, Mentor, OH

When I say they don’t really look like any of their cousins because of their coloration, that’s not entirely true. They are essentially the eastern version of the Cordilleran and Pacific slope flycatchers (both of which were once considered one species known as the western flycatcher), but their ranges do not overlap. Still, there’s always a chance one wanders into another’s range, so being familiar with their call is helpful, as it is with most birds.

Yellow-bellied flycatcher. Headlands Dunes State Nature Preserve, Mentor, OH

Yellow-bellied flycatchers like wet, boggy areas. and stick to flycatching in the middle range of the canopy. Yellow-bellied flycatchers breed in Canada and winter in southern Mexico and Central America. They have one of the shortest breeding seasons of any neotropic migrant. They usually only stay on their breeding grounds about two months before making the journey back to their wintering grounds. So the window to see one in the US is fairly limited! Still, they are a nice pop of color in the otherwise drab landscape that is flycatchers. Back to shorebirds next time and the stilt sandpiper. See you then!

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