Least Flycatcher Empidonax minimus
One of the most difficult Empidonax species to visually identify,
the Least Flycatcher can otherwise be easily identified by its
persistent “chebec” song. It breeds from southern Yukon,
southern NWT, south and eastward through the Canadian provinces and
the northern United States to southern Newfoundland and central
Labrador, the northeastern United States and along the Appalachians
south to northwest Georgia. This flycatcher winters in
southern Florida, Mexico, Honduras and northern Nicaragua.
Small flycatcher. The sexes are similar in plumage.
Length 12.5-14 cm.
Weight 8-13 g.
Upperparts, wings, and tail brownish-olive to grayish, greater and
median wing coverts tipped ashy-white to lemon-white forming two
wing bars. The underparts are whitish, washed with
dusky-grayish on breast and sides and slight yellowish on belly.
The lower mandible generally has a dusky tip with a yellow-orange
base. The throat is white with no yellowish cast. The
ashy-white to white eye ring is complete or nearly complete.
The legs are blackish.
When not heard the Least Flycatcher is difficult to separate from
the Hammonds Flycatcher. As with all Empidonax flycatchers
great care is needed in identifying species and the ability to
recognize songs and calls are a great aid.
As like other flycatchers, the Least perches on branches of trees to
fly out and catch insects, frequently returning to the same perch.
Most insects are caught in mid-air but it will forage while hovering
near foliage for spiders and caterpillars.
Generally seen in open woods, aspen groves, orchards, and shade
trees. Breeds in deciduous or mixed woodlands, seldom in
purely coniferous groves and usually around clearings or edges.
However, it is sometimes known to breed in the interior of dry
Least Flycatchers are known for their propensity to form overt
clusters of territories during the breeding season. In the
spring, males sing incessantly and establish small territories in
highly dense clusters that resemble classical leks.
Extra-territorial forays by males and females often result in
aggressive chases and fights during peak female fertility.
Females weave their nest from fine grasses, placing it in the crotch
of a small tree or shrub, or saddling it on a limb or large branch.
Three to six creamy white eggs are laid.
IUCN Conservation status listed as Least Concern.
Although appropriate habitat at Colony Farm, the Least
Flycatcher's range doesn't usually extend as far west and
therefore an exciting occurrence in the park. The graph
reflects capture of two individuals, believed to be a pair,
caught in June and July of 2012. Capture rates are
standardized as birds captured per 100 net hours from 2010 -