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Gray Flycatcher Empidonax wrightii


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Gray Flycatcher
credit: Marcel Holyoak/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has plain gray head, neck, and back. Wings are dark with two bold pale wing bars. Underparts are pale gray, palest on throat and belly. Has pale eyering and narrow bill (seen side-on), whose lower mandible is orange-pink with a dark tip. Postbreeding molt occurs after migration, so fall adults look worn. In winter, plumage has a faint yellow wash. JUVENILE Similar, but plumage has a buffy wash.

Dimensions Length: 5 1/2" (14 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly Apr- Aug) to pinyon pine woodland, sagebrush, and other dry, brushy areas. Winters mainly in Mexico with small numbers in southern Arizona.

Observation Tips Fairly easy to find in suitable habitats.

Range Rocky Mountains, Southwest, Texas, California, Northwest

Voice Song is a rapid, liquid and repeated chiowip; call is a sharp whit.

Discussion Empidonax flycatchers (also known as "empids") seldom sit still for long. When perched, wings appear rather short; head and eyes are relatively large, and upright posture is adopted by most when sitting. Diagnostically (among empids), Gray habitually pumps tail when perched; downward stroke is slow (as if pushing against pressure) while return stroke is rapid. Flycatches insects and gleans prey from foliage while hovering. Sexes are similar.