The Pacific-slope Flycatcher is yellowish underneath, with the yellow extending up to the throat. It has a broad bill, and its lower mandible is yellow. The white eye-ring extends to the back in a teardrop shape. The juvenile has two buffy wing-bars that change to white as it matures. These features are distinctive, as is its voice, making separation from other Empidonax species in its range relatively easy.
The habitat of Pacific-slope Flycatchers includes both deciduous and mixed deciduous-coniferous forests. These birds are generally found in the sub-canopy of heavy, wet forest. Streamsides and shady areas with shrubby understory are often used. Along the outer coast, they are the only Empidonax flycatchers commonly found in the dense, wet rain forest of this region.
The Pacific-slope Flycatcher generally watches from a perch in the lower or middle canopy, and flies out to catch prey in the air. It also hovers in front of foliage or twigs and gleans prey from their surfaces. This species can be very hard to see, but can be found readily once its call is known--a distinct, upslurred suweet, or a high, thin tseep.
Pacific-slope Flycatchers eat mostly flying insects as well as some crawling insects.
Pacific-slope Flycatchers usually select natural sites such as trees for nesting. Very occasionally they nest under man-made bridges or eaves. Nests usually have some sort of shelter from above. Natural nesting sites include tree stumps and upturned tree roots, which are typically closer to the ground than nests on man-made objects. The female builds the nest of moss, grass, rootlets, bark, and lichen, and lines it with hair and feathers. She usually incubates three to four eggs for 14 to 15 days. Both parents feed the young, which leave the nest at about 15 days. The young stay near the nest for a few days after fledging.
These medium-distance migrants arrive in Washington in late April or early May. Most birds leave in late July and early August; however, some stay into mid-September. They head to the lowlands of western and southern Mexico for the winter.
The Pacific-slope Flycatcher is listed on the Audubon~Washington watch list. The Breeding Bird Survey has recorded a significant decline in Washington from 1980-2000. While man-made structures may add potential nesting sites, logging and clearing underbrush degrades the habitat.
When and Where to Find in Washington
In 1989, the Western Flycatcher was split into two species, the Pacific-slope Flycatcher and the Cordilleran Flycatcher. There is not a distinct difference between vocalizations where the ranges meet in southeastern Washington. Because of this, the split is disputed and the status may be changed again once further study has been done. Pacific-slope Flycatchers are common throughout their Washington range. They breed in forests from low to moderate elevations throughout Washington, including streamside forests in the steppe zone of eastern Washington. Cordilleran Flycatchers, or intergrades between the two, may breed in coniferous forests in the Blue Mountains of southeastern Washington.
Click here to visit this species' account and breeding-season distribution map in Sound to Sage, Seattle Audubon's on-line breeding bird atlas of Island, King, Kitsap, and Kittitas Counties.
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Washington Range Map
North American Range Map
- Olive-sided FlycatcherContopus cooperi
- Western Wood-PeweeContopus sordidulus
- Alder FlycatcherEmpidonax alnorum
- Willow FlycatcherEmpidonax traillii
- Least FlycatcherEmpidonax minimus
- Hammond's FlycatcherEmpidonax hammondii
- Gray FlycatcherEmpidonax wrightii
- Dusky FlycatcherEmpidonax oberholseri
- Pacific-slope FlycatcherEmpidonax difficilis
- Black PhoebeSayornis nigricans
- Eastern PhoebeSayornis phoebe
- Say's PhoebeSayornis saya
- Vermilion FlycatcherPyrocephalus rubinus
- Ash-throated FlycatcherMyiarchus cinerascens
- Tropical KingbirdTyrannus melancholicus
- Western KingbirdTyrannus verticalis
- Eastern KingbirdTyrannus tyrannus
- Scissor-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus forficatus
- Fork-tailed FlycatcherTyrannus savana
|Federal Endangered Species List||Audubon/American Bird Conservancy Watch List||State Endangered Species List||Audubon Washington Vulnerable Birds List|
View full list of Washington State's Species of Special Concern