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yellow-bellied flycatcher

Empidonax flaviventris

What do they look like?

As the name suggests, Yellow-bellied flycatchers have yellow

bellies and throats. They are bright green on their backs. They

have light-colored rings around their eyes and wing bars. Flycatchers of the genus Empidonax, including Empidonax flaviventris, are monomorphic, the sexes look alike. There are

rictal bristles around the beak, which is fairly wide and flat.

  • Average mass
    12 g
    0.42 oz
  • Average mass
    11.9 g
    0.42 oz

Where do they live?

Yellow-bellied flycatchers breed from southern Arctic Canada, across Canada from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic provinces and the north-easternmost states. In the spring

and fall, they migrate in the eastern half of the United States.

Their wintering grounds are in southern Central America.

What kind of habitat do they need?

Yellow-bellied flycatchers can be found in forested areas and along foothills. They prefer moist environments such as bogs and

the edges of mixed wood and coniferous forests, particularly

near water bodies.

How do they reproduce?

Empidonax flaviventris nests on or near the ground. The female

builds and lines a cup-shaped nest with mosses and plant material. A clutch of 3 to 5 white eggs with brown spots is laid. On average, each egg meausures 13x17 mm. Both male and female tend the young. Breeding occurs between May and late August.

  • Average eggs per season
  • Average time to hatching
    15 days

How long do they live?

How do they behave?

All species of Empidonax behave similarly and are difficult to

distinguish based on this trait. The Yellow-bellied flycatcher

is quite secretive, and often difficult to observe because of

its tendency to hide in the shrubby layer near the forest floor.

It is also quite quiet during breeding season, not singing very

often. This makes it even more difficult to locate.

How do they communicate with each other?

What do they eat?

The Yellow-bellied flycatcher is insectivorous, although it may

occasionally eat some berries. They pick insects off of foliage

or hawk, catching insects in the air and returning to a perch.

They tend to stay near the forest floor. Their rictal bristles

help to catch insects, and a hooked beak helps hold them.

Do they cause problems?

There are no known negative effects on humans or on any animal

species which we consider beneficial.

How do they interact with us?

The Yellow-bellied flycatcher has little impact on humans, other

than feeding on insects which we consider to be an annoyance.

Are they endangered?

The Yellow-bellied flycatcher ranges from being common to uncommon on its breeding grounds, and is not often seen while migrating. This probably does not represent any threat of endangerment, but demonstrates that this is not a very visible species.


Greg Ross (author), University of Alberta, Cindy Paszkowski (editor), University of Alberta.


Das, M. 2000. Classification of Alberta Birds. Zool 301, University of Alberta: Mrinal Das.

Lanyon, S. 1998. Encyclopedia of Birds, pp. 166- 168.. San Diego, California.: Academia Press.

McGillivray, W., G. Semenchuk. 1998. Field Guide to Alberta Birds, p. 178. Altona, Manitoba: Federation of Alberta Naturalists.

Robbins, C., B. Bruun, H. Zim. 1983. Birds of North America, p.212. New York, New York: Golden Press.

University of Michigan Museum of ZoologyNational Science Foundation

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Ross, G. 2001. "Empidonax flaviventris" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed April 17, 2024 at

BioKIDS is sponsored in part by the Interagency Education Research Initiative. It is a partnership of the University of Michigan School of Education, University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, and the Detroit Public Schools. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant DRL-0628151.
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