My adventures in the woods, streams, rivers, fields, and lakes of Michigan

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Note: this post, while published, is a work in progress, as are all posts in this series, My Photo Life List. My goal is to photograph every species of bird that is seen on a regular basis here in Michigan, working from a list compiled by the Michigan chapter of the Audubon Society. This will be a lifelong project, that I began in January of 2013, and as I shoot better photos of this, or any other species, I will update the post for that species with better photos when I can. While this series is not intended to be a field guide per se, my minimum standard for the photos in this series is that one has to be able to make a positive identification of the species in my photos. The information posted here is from either my observations or the Wikipedia, the online free encyclopedia, however, I have personally shot all the photos appearing in this series.

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

The Acadian flycatcher is a small insect-eating bird of the tyrant flycatcher family.

Adults have olive upper parts, darker on the wings and tail, with whitish underparts; they have a white eye ring, white wing bars and a wide bill. The breast is washed with olive. The upper part of the bill is dark; the lower part is yellowish. This bird’s song is an explosive peet-sa. The call is a soft peet. They also have a call similar to that of the northern flicker.

Its breeding habitat is deciduous forests, often near water, across the eastern United States and southwestern Ontario. These birds migrate through eastern Mexico and the Caribbean to southern Central America and the very northwest of South America in Colombia, western Venezuela, and Ecuador.

The numbers of these birds have declined somewhat in the southern parts of their range. Brown-headed cowbirds lay eggs in the nests of these birds in some areas. However only 16% of cowbird young in Acadian flycatcher nests fledge successfully.

They wait on a perch in the middle of a tree and fly out to catch insects in flight, also sometimes picking insects from foliage while hovering. They may eat some berries and seeds.

They make a loose cup nest in a horizontal fork in a tree or shrub.

The Acadian flycatcher is an excellent flier; it is extremely maneuverable, can hover, and can even fly backward. Curiously, there is no scientific information on hopping or walking by this bird.

On to my photos:

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

Acadian Flycatcher, Empidonax virescens

This is number 168 in my photo life list, only 182 to go!

That’s it for this one, thanks for stopping by!

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14 responses

  1. Wonderful photos! I like the third one best, the way the narrow leaf is crossing over the eye…love it!

    December 2, 2014 at 12:28 am

    • Thank you! I hope to get better photos with a clearer view of this species in the future, but these are okay.

      December 2, 2014 at 6:27 am

  2. Thanks for the information, lovely pictures too.

    December 2, 2014 at 3:52 am

    • Thank you very much Susan!

      December 2, 2014 at 6:28 am

  3. Beautiful clear photos! I love the snow! I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me at first!

    December 2, 2014 at 7:35 am

    • Thank you Clare! The snow is courtesy of WordPress, I had forgotten that they do that each winter.

      December 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm

      • I hadn’t realised that as your snow is the first I’ve seen! I like flycatchers. Their heads always look too big for their bodies. Our Spotted Flycatcher is in sharp decline unfortunately – we used to have a pair nesting in the garden of our former house. The Pied Flycatcher has recently started to be called ‘Flicker’ by birders here, strangely enough, because of its habit of flicking its tail and wings when calling or alarmed.

        December 2, 2014 at 2:19 pm

      • Thanks again! I love flycatchers also, but identifying ours over here can be tough. It’s a shame that yours are in decline, let’s hope that they are able to bounce back.

        December 2, 2014 at 4:52 pm

  4. This is another bird I’ve never heard of, but I wonder if it might be he one who lives in the bushes along the river and darts out for bugs at dusk. They fly so fast and hide so deep in the brush that I’ve never gotten a good look at them.

    December 2, 2014 at 8:45 am

    • Thank you Allen! There are several species of flycatchers that all behave as you describe, and they all look very much alike. They are one of the tougher families to identify, the clues to this one are the green color of its back, the white eye-ring, and yellowish lower beak.

      December 2, 2014 at 12:57 pm

  5. Lovely shots of a hard-to-catch, speedy little bird. He looked like he was hiding from you.

    December 2, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    • Thank you! It was trying to hide, since I thought that it was a new species for me, I shot those four quick ones, then tried for an unobstructed view, but it took off then.

      December 2, 2014 at 4:50 pm

  6. Our American flycatchers are a tricky lot to identify, but your wonderful photos make it easier. Very informative and interesting post, thank you.

    December 3, 2014 at 9:54 am

    • Thanks Jet! That’s the point of that series, photos to help people, myself included, learn how to ID birds.

      December 3, 2014 at 12:56 pm