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Yellow-bellied Flycatcher range

Posted on Dec 13, 2013

One of the many terrific photos Sean has sent us from Costa Rica was a Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris) he netted and banded. The bird was captured at Finca Pura Vida. Take a look at this lively friend!

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (Empidonax flaviventris)

That’s a great expression and a really great capture. This talkative bird made me think a bit about the species in general. You typically see them only scarcely or rarely in migration in most of the United States. I thought about the usual locations I would find them and some of the sightings I’ve had and knew that they nested in the boreal forest but…I really had no clue where they ended up in the winter. Costa Rica, check. How about elsewhere? Was Costa Rica the northern or southern edge of this winter range? Thankfully eBird can help and here’s their all-time and all-season range map.

eBird Yellow-bellied Flycatcher range

Looks like the south wins! Central America has a lot of Yellow-bellied Flys concentrated into a relatively small area in the winter. Let’s take an even closer look…

eBird Yellow-bellied Flycatcher Central America range

All of those markers are Yellow-bellied Flycatcher sightings of at least one bird. All of the orange markers are records from the last 30 days. Can you spot Costa Rica? If you know your geography you can but otherwise the name is entirely covered by markers to the north of Panama. It seems to be a very popular area for the species. The range really does seem to end there rather abruptly. I would think there would be at least some records from south of Panama if the species regularly went much further, but this is all just a snippet of why research and banding like Sean is conducting is so important.

Maybe the bird in the photo will travel past your house this spring on its way to nesting in the far reaches of Canada…


Scott Kruitbosch
Conservation & Outreach Coordinator

Photo © Sean Graesser