Yellow-bellied FlycatcherEmpidonax flaviventris (Baird and Baird)
Status Fairly common in summer. Breeds. This is generally the latest Empidonax flycatcher to arrive in spring (average 22 May, earliest 8 May), and northbound transients continue to appear in numbers in coastal areas and on islands into June. It is widespread in suitable habitats in summer. Peak movements have been noted in early September, and last reports are usually during that month (average 13 September, latest 23 October). Very late birds have been recorded on Sable Island on 16 November 1969 (C. Bell) and on Seal Island on 8 November 1976 (B. Mactavish).
Description Length: 12.5-14 cm. Adults: Olive-green above; wings and tail dark brown, wings showing distinct bars; underparts sulphur yellow, denser on belly; upper breast and sides washed with olive-green; upper mandible black, lower mandible flesh-coloured.
Breeding Nest: On the ground, usually well concealed in the mossy bank of a woodland stream, or among the roots of an upturned tree in wet, well-shaded woods; it is beautifully constructed of mosses and fine grasses. Eggs: Usually 4; creamy white with numerous pale cinnamon-brown markings, chiefly around the larger end. W. Earl Godfrey examined a nest with four eggs near Baddeck on 30 June 1954. It was on the ground in damp, shady woods of mixed growth, concealed by overhanging moss. Another nest found at Moore's Falls, Kings County, byJohn T. Erskine on 10 July 1955 contained four eggs and was in a similar location.
Range Breeds from northern British Columbia and southeastern Mackenzie Valley east to Newfoundland, and south to New Hampshire, northern Minnesota and central Alberta. Winters from Mexico to Panama.
Remarks In summer, you are not likely to find this bird far from the wet, mossy, well-shaded woods of coniferous or mixed growth for which it shows a strong preference. It is a timorous bird, always flitting behind a bush or thicket as though determined to keep just out of sight. Its song is a sweet, sad and plaintive whistle, suggesting to some the call note of the Semipalmated Plover with less volume.
The identification of small flycatchers of the genus Empidonax outside the breeding season, when habitat and song are diagnostic, is an evolving art. The Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, with its greenish back and yellowish underparts, including the throat, is generally easy to distinguish from the Least and Alder Flycatchers. In spring there is a possibility of confusion with the similarly greenish and early migrating Acadian Flycatcher (see Remarks under that species) but late fall records should eliminate the possibility of the very similar Western Flycatcher, Empidonax difficilis, for which there are few records in the eastern United States. There are times when Empidonax flycatchers are best reported as "Empidonax species (?)."
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