Willow Flycatcher

– A Small Bird with a Big Voice

The Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) is a small, migratory bird that belongs to the family of tyrant flycatchers. This bird has a unique appearance and vocalization that make it easily distinguishable from other flycatcher species.

Basic Description:

The Willow Flycatcher is an olive-green bird with pale yellow underparts and two white wing-bars. It measures around 5 inches in length and weighs about 0.4 ounces. Males have slightly darker plumage than females but both sexes look similar overall.

Where To Find This Bird:

Willow Flycatchers breed in North America, primarily in the western United States, but also as far east as the Great Lakes region of Canada and the northeastern United States. They migrate south during winter to Central America and northern South America.


Willow Flycatchers prefer open woodland habitats near water sources such as streams or wetlands where they can find their preferred nesting material: willow twigs. They are also known to inhabit shrubby areas along fence lines, powerlines or roadways for breeding purposes.


As their name suggests, Willow Flycatchers feed mainly on flying insects such as flies, moths, beetles or grasshoppers which they catch mid-air while perching on branches or stems within their territory.

Cool Facts:

– The distinctive song of this bird sounds like “fitz-bew” followed by a descending trill.
– Some subspecies of Willow Flycatchers have been recorded hybridizing with Alder Flycatchers creating what is called “Traill’s flyatchcer.”
– Their nests are made entirely from willow twigs woven together into an enclosed cup-like shape.
– These birds are generally monogamous and mate for life.
– Despite being common throughout much of its range, habitat loss due to human activity poses a significant threat to their population, leading the species to be listed as threatened or endangered in some states.

In conclusion, the Willow Flycatcher is a remarkable bird that contributes to the diversity of avian fauna in North America. Although small and unassuming, it plays an important role in controlling insect populations within its ecosystem. Understanding and preserving its habitat is crucial for ensuring the survival of this unique species for future generations.