Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Nevada is home to more than a few threatened or endangered species. Some of these include the Mountain yellow-legged frog (Rana muscosa), Lahontan cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi), and the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis sierra). The southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax trailii extimus) is one of the state’s endangered bird species.

The southwestern willow flycatcher was listed as a federally endangered species in 1995 by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The species of flycatcher is reliant on “dense riparian vegetation near surface water or saturated soils in the American Southwest.” One of the primary drivers of their decline was the loss and degradation of suitable habitat. Human activity including the construction of dams, water diversion for agriculture, livestock grazing, and more were leading to the destruction of prime southwestern willow flycatcher habitat.

The southwestern willow flycatcher is known as a neotropical migrant. While the flycatchers breed in patches of riparian habitat in southwestern states like Nevada, California, southern Utah, and New Mexico, they travel south in the winter. When the seasons change, these birds head to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. While their current distribution remains similar to their historic range, their overall numbers have declined as a result of habitat loss and degradation.

Click here to learn more about the southwestern willow flycatcher and current conservation efforts!

Denise Peterson

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