Five inches long including tail, the Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) winters from Mexico to South America and is endangered. It has distinctive light-colored wingbars and its is colored brownish-olive to gray-green above with a yellowish belly. Its throat is whitish, and breast is pale olive. When perched, characteristically flicks tail slightly upward and looks like a sentinel protecting its tree.
This flycatcher breeds in late spring and through the summer in Arizona and New Mexico’s dense riparian vegetation along streams, rivers, wetlands and reservoirs and in other arid southwestern states. In the fall, the flycatcher makes a strenuous migration thousands of miles to Mexico, Central, and possibly northern South America for the winter. When spring comes the flycatcher reverses its course and returns to southwestern home state hoping to find a suitable place for building its nest.
Livestock over grazing, dams, water withdrawal, and sprawl, changes in river and water management, residential and urban development; have robbed the sentinel-like songbird of more than 90 percent of its riparian habitat — and left it all the more vulnerable to other birds that prey on its eggs or use its nests to incubate their own eggs during the breeding season.
The Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program has undertaken riparian habitat restoration projects along the Rio Grande. By protecting the flycatcher and repairing its breeding habitat, the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher may recover its populations to a healthy level.
“After a Center for Biodiversity petition and three years of legal wrangling, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service finally declared the flycatcher endangered in 1995, but it’s been plagued with administration disregard ever since.
As destruction of southwestern streamside forests continues, the Center is taking concrete action to win adequate protections for flycatcher habitat. In 2007, we notified the Bush administration we’d sue over 55 politically motivated endangered species decisions — including the flycatcher’s 2005 critical habitat designation, which reduced the bird’s protected habitat by more than two-thirds of the area originally proposed after a Center lawsuit.
In October 2008, we followed through by suing the administration to force it to restore the critical habitat the flycatcher needs. Simultaneously, we’re defending flycatcher habitat along Arizona’s San Pedro River from unsustainable groundwater pumping, off-road vehicle destruction, and other ecosystem threats.”
Excerpts from http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/species/bird/southwesternwillowflycatcher
Willow Flycatcher Vocalizations: A Guide to Surveyors
Click on the links below to hear example specific tracks from the Guide. It is recommended that you listen first to Track 1, to learn more about the Guide.
Image courtesy of wifl_in_hand_colorband_b1.jpg