Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

Empidonax flaviventris
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher specimens on display in the exhibit "Birds of D.C."

A small (5 ½ inches) flycatcher resembling several related species in the genus Empidonax, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher may best be separated from its relatives not by appearance, but by its ‘chu-wee’ song. Physical field marks include a yellow-green body, white eye ring, pale breast, thin bill, and white wing bars. Male and female Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are similar to one another in all seasons. The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher breeds across much of Canada, Alaska, and northern portions of the United States. Smaller populations occur south of this species main range at higher elevations in the Appalachian Mountains. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers spend the winter in Central America, although identifying this species’ in its winter range is difficult due to its similarity to other related species. In summer, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers breed in northern evergreen forests, particularly those dominated by spruce trees. On migration, this species may be found in deciduous forests across North America. In winter, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are found in dense tropical forests as well as highland pine forests in the northern part of its winter range. This species primarily eats small insects, particularly midges and gnats. In northern forests in summer, Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are most likely to be seen darting through the canopy while catching insects in flight. Even when active, however, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher is a difficult bird to observe. Learning this species’ song is crucial to separating it from its relatives, and silent birds are frequently impossible to identify. Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are primarily active during the day, but, like many migratory songbirds, this species migrates at night.

DC Information

Uncommon migrant in May and in August and September, in evergreen and deciduous forests, Sexes are alike.

Specimen Information

The female is on the left and the male on the right.
Date:  8/7/1892
Collected By:  Wm Palmer
Locality:  Four Mile Run, VA
Sex:  Female
Catalog ID:  236054
Date:  8/24/1889
Collected By:  Wm Palmer
Locality:  Ballston, VA
Sex:  Male
Catalog ID:  293894

Distribution Map

distribution map for this species

Bird Vocalizations

Sound from xeno-canto. XC28446 Empidonax flaviventris (Yellow-bellied Flycatcher)

Empidonax flaviventris