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Least Flycatcher

Empidonax minimus ORDER: PASSERIFORMES FAMILY: TYRANNIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

Least Flycatchers are one of the grayish olive flycatchers in the often confusing Empidonax group, but they're one of the easier ones to identify. Their small size, bold white eyering, and distinctive chebec song set them apart. During the summer, they congregate in clusters in deciduous forests and sing incessantly. They may be little, but they don't let other birds push them around, sometimes chasing species as large as Blue Jays. Though they are common, they lost more than half of their population since 1970.

Songs

The song of the Least Flycatcher is a very short and distinctive, dry chebec given by males and sometimes females that sounds more like a call. The song consists of two notes that each last less than a quarter of a second. They repeat each song, sometimes singing as many as 60 chebecs per minute.

Calls

Males and females whit softly while feeding and attending to the nest. When they feel threatened the whit becomes louder and more emphatic. During more aggressive encounters they make a high-hitched weep.

Other

Search the Macaulay Library online archive for more sounds and videos

Backyard Tips

Least Flycatchers aren't your typical backyard breeder, but they may stop by your yard during migration. Learn how to provide migration habitat for these and other migrants by visiting Habitat Network.

Learn more about creating a forest patch for Least Flycatchers and other birds at Habitat Network.

Find This Bird

Least Flycatchers make their presence known with their incessant chebecs during the breeding season. To find them, take a walk in a deciduous forest in the northern U.S. and Canada, and listen for their very short 2-note song. Don't be alarmed if you don't hear them right away; they nest in clusters so there might be stretches of forest without any Least Flycatchers. But once you come across a cluster, there will likely be several about. They generally catch insects from branches in the middle to upper levels of the forest and frequently change perches, so look up for quick movements. On migration, these flycatchers may be silent and hard to tell from other Empidonax—look for their small size and bold eyering.

You Might Also Like

Confusing Flycatchers? Use Migration Timing To Your Advantage, eBird, April 20, 2011.

When Does A Songbird Migrate? Depends On What It Eats, All About Birds, October 15, 2015.

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bird image Blue-winged Warbler by Brian Sullivan

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