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Species Guide
A photo of a Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)
Acadian Flycatcher

Acadian Flycatcher

Empidonax virescens

The Acadian flycatcher, Empidonax virescens, is a diminutive avian member of the tyrant flycatcher family. This species is characterized by its olive upperparts, which are darker on the wings and tail, and contrasting whitish underparts. A distinctive white eye ring and white wing bars are notable, along with a wide bill. The breast exhibits a subtle olive wash, while the upper bill is dark and the lower bill presents a yellowish hue.

Identification Tips

When endeavoring to identify the Acadian flycatcher, look for the following key features: a length of 5.5–5.9 inches (14–15 cm), a weight of 0.4–0.5 ounces (11–14 g), and a wingspan of 8.7–9.1 inches (22–23 cm). The bird's song, an explosive "peet-sa," and a two-note "ka-zeep" are distinctive auditory markers. Additionally, the soft "peet" call may be heard, which bears resemblance to that of the northern flicker.


The preferred breeding habitat of the Acadian flycatcher is within deciduous forests, often in proximity to water bodies, which provide an ideal environment for this species.


This bird is found across the eastern United States and into southwestern Ontario. It undertakes a migratory journey through eastern Mexico and the Caribbean, reaching as far as southern Central America and the northwestern regions of South America, including Colombia, western Venezuela, and Ecuador.


The Acadian flycatcher exhibits remarkable aerial agility. It is known to wait on a perch mid-canopy and engage in "hawking" – flying out to catch insects in mid-flight. It also practices "gleaning," picking insects from foliage while hovering. This bird is an adept flier, capable of hovering and even flying backward, though curiously, there is no scientific record of its ability to hop or walk.

Song & Calls

The Acadian flycatcher's vocalizations include an explosive "peet-sa" and a unique two-note song "ka-zeep," which can aid in its identification. A soft "peet" call is also part of its repertoire.


Nesting behavior involves constructing a loose cup nest situated in a horizontal fork of a tree or shrub, providing a secure location for raising its young.

Diet and Feeding

While primarily insectivorous, the Acadian flycatcher may occasionally consume berries and seeds, supplementing its diet beyond aerial insects.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List currently classifies the Acadian flycatcher as Least Concern. However, there has been a noted decline in the southern extents of its range, and it faces the threat of brood parasitism by brown-headed cowbirds, although only a small percentage of cowbird chicks in Acadian flycatcher nests reach fledging success.

Acadian Flycatcher Sounds

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Acadian Flycatchers on Birda


More Tyrant Flycatchers, Calyptura

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