Empidonax flaviventrisyellow-bellied flycatcher

Geographic Range

Yellow-bellied flycatchers breed from southern Arctic Canada, across Canada from east of the Rocky Mountains to the Atlantic provinces and the north-easternmost states. In the spring

and fall, they migrate in the eastern half of the United States.

Their wintering grounds are in southern Central America.


Yellow-bellied flycatchers can be found in forested areas and along foothills. They prefer moist environments such as bogs and

the edges of mixed wood and coniferous forests, particularly

near water bodies.

Physical Description

As the name suggests, Yellow-bellied flycatchers have yellow

bellies and throats. They are bright green on their backs. They

have light-colored rings around their eyes and wing bars. Flycatchers of the genus Empidonax, including Empidonax flaviventris, are monomorphic, the sexes look alike. There are

rictal bristles around the beak, which is fairly wide and flat.

  • Average mass
    12 g
    0.42 oz
  • Average mass
    11.9 g
    0.42 oz


Empidonax flaviventris nests on or near the ground. The female

builds and lines a cup-shaped nest with mosses and plant material. A clutch of 3 to 5 white eggs with brown spots is laid. On average, each egg meausures 13x17 mm. Both male and female tend the young. Breeding occurs between May and late August.

  • Average eggs per season
  • Average time to hatching
    15 days



All species of Empidonax behave similarly and are difficult to

distinguish based on this trait. The Yellow-bellied flycatcher

is quite secretive, and often difficult to observe because of

its tendency to hide in the shrubby layer near the forest floor.

It is also quite quiet during breeding season, not singing very

often. This makes it even more difficult to locate.

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

The Yellow-bellied flycatcher is insectivorous, although it may

occasionally eat some berries. They pick insects off of foliage

or hawk, catching insects in the air and returning to a perch.

They tend to stay near the forest floor. Their rictal bristles

help to catch insects, and a hooked beak helps hold them.

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

The Yellow-bellied flycatcher has little impact on humans, other

than feeding on insects which we consider to be an annoyance.

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known negative effects on humans or on any animal

species which we consider beneficial.

Conservation Status

The Yellow-bellied flycatcher ranges from being common to uncommon on its breeding grounds, and is not often seen while migrating. This probably does not represent any threat of endangerment, but demonstrates that this is not a very visible species.


Greg Ross (author), University of Alberta, Cindy Paszkowski (editor), University of Alberta.



living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.

World Map


living in the southern part of the New World. In other words, Central and South America.

World Map


uses sound to communicate

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


uses touch to communicate


uses sight to communicate


Das, M. 2000. Classification of Alberta Birds. Zool 301, University of Alberta: Mrinal Das.

Lanyon, S. 1998. Encyclopedia of Birds, pp. 166- 168.. San Diego, California.: Academia Press.

McGillivray, W., G. Semenchuk. 1998. Field Guide to Alberta Birds, p. 178. Altona, Manitoba: Federation of Alberta Naturalists.

Robbins, C., B. Bruun, H. Zim. 1983. Birds of North America, p.212. New York, New York: Golden Press.