Willow Flycatcher: 15 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Read these willow flycatcher facts about the bird always found near water - the native bird of North America, mainly California.

The Willow flycatcher is a little olive bird whose impressive singing can be heard from the willow thickets attracting hundreds of tourists.

The Willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) is a species of North American birds that belong to the order Passeriformes family. There are about four subspecies of willow flycatchers that are found in the world. These species of birds are hard to recognize and differentiate from each other as they look the same, and only the willow flycatcher song is a distinct song among these species, and it's called the Fitz bew song. In the past, the alder flycatcher and the willow flycatcher were considered to be the same species as they were very similar in appearance. They were recently divided into different species, and the alder flycatcher was given the binomial name Empidonax alnorum.

Although the conservation status of the willow flycatcher species is marked as Least Concern by the IUCN, some of the subspecies of Empidonax flycatchers are listed as endangered species by the U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service. The subspecies that are endangered by the list of U.S. Fish And Wildlife Service is the southwestern willow flycatcher, which is only known to be found in North America and New Mexico. In 2007, it was estimated that only 1100-1300 pairs of southwestern willow flycatcher population were left in this world.

Here on our page, we have lots of amazing facts about the willow flycatcher that everyone will enjoy. Let's look at these interesting facts; if you like these, then do read our hairy woodpecker and short-eared owl facts.

Willow Flycatcher

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Insects and berries

What do they eat?


Average litter size?


How much do they weigh?

0.5 oz (13.5 g)

How long are they?

5.2-6 in (13–15 cm)

How tall are they?

5 in (12.7 cm)

What do they look like?

Olive-brown and white-gray

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Climate change, habitat loss, large birds

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Woodlands and thickets, shrubs clearings, riparian areas near streams


North America, New Mexico, Arizona





Scientific Name

Empidonax traillii





Willow Flycatcher Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a willow flycatcher?

The Willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) is a species of small brown-headed migration birds of North America. Although these birds are tiny and small, they are the largest bird in the family and genus of Empidonax.

What class of animal does a willow flycatcher belong to?

The Willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) is a small species of migratory birds and belongs to the class of Aves.

How many willow flycatchers are there in the world?

Their current population is not recorded. However, their conservation status is listed as Least Concern by the IUCN, but their population has been declining. A few species of willow flycatchers are on the list of endangered birds. The recent studies of the Fish and Wildlife Service show that the population of southwestern willow flycatcher has come down to 1299 pairs.

Where does a willow flycatcher live?

The Willow flycatcher range is between North America and New Mexico. These birds reside in open areas like woodlands, dense thickets, shrubs clearings in the winter season, and most importantly, they are found in the open riparian areas where the water or streams are present.

What is willow flycatcher's habitat?

The Willow flycatcher habitat includes the riparian areas with streams or standing water. They build their nests in the bushy thickets or the edges of the woodland area in the winter season of North America and perform migration in the spring.

Who do willow flycatchers live with?

The Traill's flycatcher birds are not social; they live a solitary life. These birds migrate alone and come back to their previous breeding ground in the breeding season. Willow flycatchers inhabit their own territory and often have one mate throughout their life. Every breeding season, they come together and continue to stay together till the newborn is old enough to be left alone.

How long does a willow flycatcher live?

The average lifespan of a willow flycatcher varies from three to four years. In contrast, there are other species of flycatchers that have been known to survive for five to six years as well. Records have shown that the oldest willow flycatcher was found to be 11 years old.

How do they reproduce?

The flycatcher's breeding season begins in the summer (June to August). In this period, the birds come together in the breeding ground and perform the mating process. The Willow flycatcher builds its nest by putting together barks and grass of the plants and trees. It approximately takes a month and a half for the entire process of laying eggs in the nests, hatching of eggs, and the fledging of young ones, to come to an end. Willow flycatcher eggs come in a cluster of three to four eggs at a time, and they are white in color with brown spots.

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the willow flycatcher, also known as Traill's flycatcher, is marked as Least Concern by the IUCN. However, their population is known to be decreasing at a fast pace, which might put them under the endangered species category if necessary measurements are not put into action immediately. The Southern willow flycatcher is already listed as an Endangered species. For now, the southwest willow flycatcher can only be found in California, North America, and New Mexico.

Willow Flycatcher Fun Facts

What do willow flycatchers look like?

Willow flycatchers are brown-gray in color. These birds are also found in olive-brown color with whitish bellies and a little splash of yellow on them. They have two white lines on their wings and olive breasts. The bird has a small bill with a white eye-ring, and this eye-ring is a unique feature in this bird species.

The Willow flycatcher has a white breast and a white eye-ring.

How cute are they?

These species of flycatchers are known to be very cute due to their tiny adorable size. Their cute little appearance and the Fitz bew song that they sing attract tourists to the North American region.

How do they communicate?

The communication between the willow flycatcher varies based on situations with three different songs. There are different sounds for breeding, nesting, and migration period. They vocalize in sounds known as 'Fitz bew', 'Fizz bew', and 'creet'. The females rarely vocalize (only when they detect any threats) while the male birds sing songs generally and also when they want to attract the female. During the nesting period, the call becomes different and long, and as the nesting period comes to an end, the calls gradually get shorter.

How big is a willow flycatcher?

The average size of a male and female willow flycatcher bird is 5.2-6 in (13–15 cm) in length and has a height of 5 in (12.7 cm). This species of bird is ten times smaller than a common cat.

How fast can a willow flycatcher fly?

Willow flycatchers fly at an average speed of 27-29 mph (43-46 kph). The Willow flycatcher has a range of about 932-4970 mi (1500-8000 km) during migration.

How much does a willow flycatcher weigh?

The weight of a flycatcher is very low as these birds are small and tiny in size. They weigh only 0.48 oz (13.5 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no different names for the adult male and adult female species of the willow flycatcher.

What would you call a baby willow flycatcher?

There is no particular name for the baby or young willow flycatcher. They can be referred to as chicks or nestlings. The young bird tends to stay with the parent birds only for a period of 14-25 days in the nests, after which they are old enough to take flight and live independently.

What do they eat?

The Willow flycatcher is a small bird that feeds on small insects like bees, butterflies, wasps, and ants. Their diet predominantly consists of small insects, and other than that, they sometimes feed on some berries like blueberries and raspberries. Despite their eating behavior, which involves them darting off from their perch and catching the insects mid-air, these birds have many predators. Namely, the snakes, hawks, and the other bigger animals are their common predators.

Are they aggressive?

The Willow flycatchers may be small birds, but these birds are caught showing aggressive behavior during the mating period. The males defend their territories and their nests when the young are present. In conclusion, we can say that they only show aggressive behavior when they detect any threats in their territory.

Would they make a good pet?

Willow flycatchers being protected species may be illegal to catch or keep as pets in many states. If you do manage to keep them as pets legally, they can be an ideal pet as most other pet birds as long as you have a decent supply of small insects to feed the little bird. These birds are kept in captivity successfully by forest officials.

Did you know...

If we talk about Alder flycatcher vs Willow flycatcher, then the only difference is that willows have a harsh call with a strong accent than the alder flycatcher, which has a lower voice.

In order to protect their population, a protection plan has been devised, which involves protecting their natural habitat and keeping them safe from their natural predators and threats. The goal is to bring their population to 3000, spreading over 1500 territories.

How is the willow flycatcher beneficial to humans?

The Willow flycatcher is quite beneficial to humans as these species feed on small insects in large quantities. These species are known as insectivorous, and they consume many small insects in a day, and as a result, they are helping in controlling the insect populations.

How to tell male from female willow flycatcher

There is no specific distinction between male and female willow flycatcher. The only noticeable difference is that the female bird is not so vocal while the male is highly vocal.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these brant facts and laughing gull facts for kids.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable willow flycatcher coloring pages.



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