Bird Database

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

(Empidonax flaviventris)

State of the Birds
At a Glance







Habitat loss and fragmentation

Conservation Actions

More data are needed on nature and magnitudes of threats

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher

(Empidonax flaviventris)

Unlike most of its close relatives, the Yellow-bellied Flycatcher eschews brushy areas and open deciduous forests for the dense conifer forests of the White Mountains and Coos County. It is the only flycatcher you’re likely to encounter among the stunted spruce and fir trees at high elevations, and numbers in such areas can be quite high. Farther south there are scattered breeding records in the western highlands of New Hampshire as far south as Mount Monadnock, although in recent years it has not been recorded consistently south of Mount Cardigan in southern Grafton County. 

This species is unique among the state’s flycatchers in that it nests on the ground. The nest is generally placed at the base of a small tree truck, in cavities among roots, or in moss under clumps of ferns. It is built mainly of moss, although lined with grass and rootlets, and as a result is very well camouflaged against the forest floor. 

Because Yellow-bellied Flycatchers are found mostly in remote areas, population trend data are hard to come by. Available data show a confusing mix of ups and downs that don’t always line up across neighboring states or provinces. For example, Breeding Bird Survey data from Maine show a net increase since 1970, while data from New Hampshire show a decline over the same period. In boreal Canada the trend is consistently upward except in the Maritime provinces. The latter declines, in conjunction with the species’ gradual disappearance from southwestern New Hampshire, might be something of an early warning of the effects of climate change on this northern species or its habitat. 

Seasonal Abundance

Relative abundance based on eBird data. Numbers indicate likelihood of finding this species in suitable habitat at a given time of year, not actual numbers encountered.

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher
Range Map

Information for the species profiles on this website was compiled from a combination of the sources listed below.

  • The Birds of New Hampshire. By Allan R. Keith and Robert B. Fox. 2013. Memoirs of the Nuttall Ornithological club No. 19.

  • Atlas of the Breeding Birds of New Hampshire. Carol R. Foss, ed. 1994. Arcadia Publishing Company and Audubon Society of New Hampshire

  • Birds of the World. Various authors and dates. Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology.

  • Data from the Breeding Bird Survey

  • Data from the Christmas Bird Count