The Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum) is a small insect-eating bird of the tyrant flycatcher family. Adults have olive-brown upperparts, browner on the wings and tail, with whitish underparts; they have a white eye ring, white wing bars, a small bill and a short tail. The breast is washed with olive-grey. The upper part of the bill is gray; the lower part is orangish. At one time, this bird was included with the very similar willow flycatcher in a single species, “Traill’s Flycatcher.”
These birds migrate to South America, usually selecting winter habitat near water.
They wait on a perch near the top of a shrub and fly out to catch insects in flight, also sometimes picking insects from foliage while hovering. They may eat some berries and seeds. [Wikipedia]
A small, nondescript flycatcher of northern wet thickets, the Alder Flycatcher is difficult to distinguish from the Willow Flycatcher by any feature other than voice. [All About Birds]
Alder Flycatcher Facts [All About Birds]
- The Alder Flycatcher is so similar to the Willow Flycatcher that they were thought to be the same species. The song is the only definitive way to tell them apart. However, measurements of crown color with a colorimeter, together with other measures of wing shape, bill, and tail, may be able to distinguish birds in the hand that are not calling.
- The Alder Flycatcher’s nest is a coarse, loose cup that nearly always has material hanging off it. The nest of the Willow Flycatcher tends to be neater, with no hanging material.
- In an experiment on song learning, Alder Flycatchers were “tutored” with Willow Flycatcher song in the first two months of life. The next spring, the Alder Flycatchers sang normal Alder Flycatcher song.
- The longest-lived Alder Flycatcher was over 9 years old when it was recaptured and rereleased during a banding operation in British Columbia.