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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There are no known negative effects on humans or on any animal
species which we consider beneficial.
The Yellow-bellied flycatcher has little impact on humans, other
than feeding on insects which we consider to be an annoyance.
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.