American Grey Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii)

American Grey Flycatcher

American Grey Flycatcher (Empidonax wrightii)

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Tyrannidae | [latin] Empidonax wrightii | [UK] American Grey Flycatcher | [FR] Moucherolle grise | [DE] Beifuss-Tyrann | [ES] Mosquero Gris | [NL] Alsemfeetiran


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Similar to Dusky or Hammond’s, but tentatively identified if the lower mandible is mostly flesh-colored, and if the back is grayer and the underparts whiter with no trace of yellow except in fall. It has a habit of
i dipping its tail like a phoebe (other empids may flick their tails). Best identified by breeding habitat and voice.

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North America : Westcentral


Sagebrush; also pinyon and juniper. In winter, willows, brush.
Breeds in open and rather arid habitats, especially sagebrush plains with a few taller trees or shrubs, also scrubby woods of juniper and pinyon pine. Winters in mesquite groves and in streamside willows and other trees, in lowlands.


May sometimes nest in loose colonies in good habitat. In places, this species and Dusky Flycatcher overlap in nesting habitat, and they will defend territories against each other.
Nest: Site is typically in vertical crotch of sagebrush or on horizontal branch of juniper or pinyon pine, 3-
20′ above the ground. Nest (built mostly by female, perhaps sometimes with help from male) is a deep cup, rather bulky and loosely constructed. Made of
weeds, strips of bark, grasses, twigs; lined with plant down, fine bark fibers, animal fur, feathers. Nest is usually in dense part of plant and is not conspicuous.
Eggs: 3-4. Creamy white. Incubation is probably by female only, about 14 days.
Young: Both parents bring food for nestlings. Young leave nest and make first flights about 16 days after hatching.

Feeding habits

Insects. Diet not known in detail, but reported to feed only on insects, including beetles, wasps, moths, grasshoppers, and others.
Forages by watching for insects from an exposed perch, then flying out to catch them in bill. Typically perches low, and often flies down to ground for insects; also catches many insects in midair, and takes some from foliage and twigs while hovering.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be increasing, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
American Grey Flycatcher status Least Concern


Western United States; winters to south-central Mexico. Migration: Migrates shorter distance than most Empidonax
flycatchers. Moves rather early in both spring and fall, with some arrivals on breeding range in April and on wintering range in August. Probably migrates at night.

Distribution map

American Grey Flycatcher distribution range map

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