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Pacific-slope Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis


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Pacific-slope Flycatcher
credit: Empidonax_difficilis1.jpg: goingslo on Flickr/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Alternate name: Western Flycatcher

Family: Tyrannidae, Tyrant Flycatchers view all from this family

Description ADULT Has olive-brown upperparts. Broad-based bill has pinkish orange lower mandible. Wings are dark with pale fringes to inner flight feathers and two buffy white wing bars; white elements on wing are less obvious through wear as summer progresses. Tail is dark. Underparts are pale, with olive or brownish wash on breast. Channel Islands endemic subspecies insulicola is duller, with whiter wing bars, a longer bill, and lower-pitched song. JUVENILE Similar, but wing feather fringes and wing bars are buffy brown.

Dimensions Length: 5 1/2-6" (14-15 cm)

Habitat Common summer visitor (mainly May-Aug) to damp, shady coniferous woodlands and often seen near streams. Winters in Mexico.

Observation Tips Outside breeding range, silent birds are hard to separate from Cordilleran.

Range Rocky Mountains, Northwest, California, Southwest, Western Canada, Alaska

Voice Song comprises repeated phrases: a thin tsi, an explosive sche-Wee, and a thin, sharp pik; call is a slurred tseweep.

Discussion Active "empid" that often adopts upright posture when perched. Extremely similar to Cordilleran and often only reliably separable by and breeding range; see that species' entry for discussion of subtle structural differences. Both species have distinctive-looking eye: relatively large and oddly accentuated by white eyering that is incomplete above the eye, but expands behind it. Rear of crown is slightly peaked, much like a phoebe. Sexes are similar.