Living Bird Magazine
Yellow-bellied FlycatcherEmpidonax flaviventris
- ORDER: Passeriformes
- FAMILY: Tyrannidae
Perhaps one of the easier flycatchers to identify in the notoriously difficult Empidonax genus, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher sports yellowish underparts and a bold eyering, unlike others in the family. It is a bird of the boreal forests and bogs where its yellowish belly seems to disappear on its breeding grounds. But its abrupt and harsh song, sung with gusto, betrays its whereabouts. On its Mexican and Central American wintering grounds listen for a soft rising call.More ID Info
Find This Bird
As with many flycatchers, finding a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher means learning its song and calls. Not only will it help with finding them, but the songs and calls are the surefire way to tell the tricky Empidonax apart. Luckily, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is also more visually distinct than many other “empids.” Listen for their abrupt and harsh che-lek and its high-pitched rising call, which is reminiscent of an Eastern Wood-Pewee. Look for them flycatching in the lower or middle levels of the forest.
- Mosquero Ventriamarillo (Spanish)
- Moucherolle à ventre jaune (French)
Yellow-bellied Flycatchers won't visit your feeder and aren't likely to nest in your backyard, but you can still provide habitat for them during migration. Native trees and shrubs tend to host more insects than non-native plants and these insects will help fuel them on their way to and from their breeding and wintering grounds. Learn more about planting natives in your yard at Habitat Network.
- Cool Facts
- Yellow-bellied Flycatchers don't stick around on the breeding grounds for long. They have one of the shortest stays of any Neotropical migrant, often less than 70 days.
- In 1942, Arthur Cleveland Bent, an American ornithologist, called the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher a "woodland waif." Bent remarked, "In its summer home its voice betrays it, but there, also, the searcher must invade the moist, gloomy morass of some northern forest bog, beneath the shade of spruces and firs, and endure the attacks of hordes of black flies and mosquitoes, to get even a glimpse."
- The oldest recorded Yellow-bellied Flycatcher was a female at least 5 years, 2 months old, when she was recaught and rereleased during banding operations in New York.