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Cordilleran Flycatcher - BirdForum Opus

Empidonax occidentalis
Photo by Raul Padilla
Tenango, Mexico, March 2011


A small (14cm, 5.5in) flycatcher of typical appearance; back brownish-olive, yellowish-olive underparts, two strong buff-colored wing bars, crest, and white-eye-ring, slightly extended behind the eye.

Similar Species

Likely to overlap with Acadian Flycatcher, Alder Flycatcher, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Gray Flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher, Least Flycatcher, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Pine Flycatcher, White-throated Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Yellow-bellied Flycatcher.

See also Empidonax.


Breeding: in Canada found Alberta and probably British Columbia; through intermountain west of the USA, most commonly in Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, and in a more spotted distribution in Washington, Nevada and California; in Mexico in highlands down to the Isthmus (but not in Baja California).

Leaves Canada, the USA and the northern part of its Mexican range in winter, and in that period is found down to the Pacific Coast.

Approximate distribution map. From Xeno canto / NatureServe data at file date (from Xeno Canto)


Cordilleran Flycatcher and Pacific-slope Flycatcher were in the past considered one species, Western Flycatcher.


There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • E. o. hellmayri:
  • Woodlands of south-western Canada to northern Mexico; winters to southern Mexico
  • E. o. occidentalis:
  • Highlands of Mexico


Shaded forests, often along streams; especially in Mexico prefers high elevation habitat for breeding.


Perches on a branch, sallying forth repeatedly to catch flying insects.


  1. Clements, JF. 2010. The Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to December 2010. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/Clements%206.5.xls/view
  2. BNA online (Cornell Lab of Ornithology)

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