Merlin

Gray Flycatcher

ID Info
  • Gray Flycatcher
  • Gray Flycatcher
  • Gray Flycatcher
Silhouette FlycatchersFlycatchers

Gray Flycatcher

Empidonax wrightii
  • ORDER: Passeriformes
  • FAMILY: Tyrannidae
Basic Description

Gray Flycatcher’s unassuming pale plumage fits perfectly with the color palette of the gray-green shrublands and foothills it inhabits. This flycatcher is a member of the notoriously difficult-to-identify genus Empidonax, but it has a telltale move that gives it away. The bird habitually dips its tail downward, recalling the way a phoebe wags its tail rather than the upward tail-flicking of some of its fellow Empidonax. Gray Flycatchers forage nimbly for insects in sagebrush, pine, and juniper habitats—often very low in the vegetation and sometimes on the ground.

More ID Info
image of range map for Gray FlycatcherRange map provided by Birds of North AmericaExplore Maps

Find This Bird

Gray Flycatchers can be surprisingly easy to find in habitats that at first seem vast and even monotonous. Walking through tall sagebrush, especially from late April through late May, when males sing through much of the morning, should bring luck. These delicate flycatchers usually perch on sage or the lower parts of trees to sing and forage, making them conspicuous despite their pale plumage. Their environment is often very windy, so try for them on calm mornings for best results.

Other Names
  • Mosquero Gris (Spanish)
  • Moucherolle gris (French)
  • Cool Facts

Looking for ID Help?

Get Instant ID help for 650+ North American birds.

Try Merlin Bird ID