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Ash-throated Flycatcher


IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

With its pale lemon belly and cinnamon tail, the Ash-throated Flycatcher is reminiscent of a desert just before sunset. Its subtle hues help it blend into its surroundings, but notes sputter out of its mouth all morning long, giving away its location. This genteel flycatcher tips its head side to side with seeming curiosity while perched among low oaks and mesquite trees. It is a die-hard bird of dry places that doesn't need to drink water; it gets all it needs from the insects and spiders it eats.


Males sing a repeated series of gurgling, burry notes just before dawn until about seven in the morning during the breeding season. Their non-musical song changes in pitch from high to low and sounds rather bumpy and stuttered as if they were sputtering through a whistle. The dawn song may include the ha-wheer call or the ka-brick call. The length of each song varies, but each burst is about 1 second long with about 2–3 seconds of silence between bursts.


Ash-throated Flycatchers have 4 distinct calls that they give singly, in pairs, or in combination. They make a short and rapid huit call or string them together into a trill that lasts for 4–5 seconds. The br-ick call is less than 1 second long and rises in pitch. They give a wheer that varies from relatively flat in pitch to rising or descending depending on their level of excitement. The final call is a short, low-pitched, burry urg. They combine these 4 basic calls to form 2 additional calls that are often part of the dawn song, the ka-brick and ha-wheer calls.

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Ash-throated Flycatchers nest in many kinds of cavities and may even nest in your yard if you put up a nest box for them before breeding season. Head on over to NestWatch to download construction plans to build your very own Ash-throated Flycatcher nest box.

You can provide foraging habitat for Ash-throated Flycatchers and other birds by creating a bird-friendly yard. Learn how at Habitat Network.

Find This Bird

The trick to finding an Ash-throated Flycatcher is to listen for its distinctive ka-brick call in dry, open woodlands and scrub. Heading out early in the morning will increase your chances of finding one, as they, like other desert dwellers, tend to quiet down as soon as the sun starts heating things up. They often call from the tops of low trees or shrubs while looking around, tipping their heads side to side in curiosity. When you are out looking for them, don’t ignore sparsely vegetated areas as they can also turn up in deserts with little vegetation; all they need is a place to build their nest. The other trick to finding an Ash-throated Flycatcher especially in the Southwest is to make sure you know what to look for, because other species can look similar. Myiarchus flycatchers like the Ash-throated are larger and have a peaked head unlike the Empidonax flycatchers. They are also larger and slimmer than phoebes. Many of the similar looking Myiarchus flycatchers do not call during the nonbreeding season, which can make identification tricky, but Ash-throateds are the most common and widespread Myiarchus flycatcher in the region where they are found.



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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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