The Acadian flycatcher, belonging to genus Tyrannidae, is a small insect-eating bird species. As per the North American Breeding Bird Survey, their number has gone down by thirteen per cent between 1966 to 2014.
Species: E. virescens
The scientific name for Acadian Flycatcher is Empidonax virescens.
Adults are as small as 13 to 15 centimetres in length, and their weight is 11 to 14 grams. Their average wingspan is 22 centimetres. The primary color of their plumage is olive, with white or yellowish underparts. They have small white bars on its wings. They have a triangular head. Their iris is black and they have a white or yellowish featherless circle around their eyes. New-born chicks are more brownish compared to adults. Their wing bars are also darker than adult specimens.
They prefer to inhabit swampy woods, beech groves, ravines and deciduous forests. Breeding mostly takes place in swampy areas, drier woods or near dense waterside woods. During winter, they migrate to tropical woodland regions.
Acadian flycatchers breed in the Nearctic region during April and May. Their range includes south-east Minnesota to east Texas in the west, going all the way to the Atlantic coast in the east.
Some population also inhabit southern Ontario in Canada. During winter, they migrate to the Neotropical region.
This species is a great flier, and it can perform excellent manoeuvres in the air. They can even fly backwards. They do not bath by standing in the water, but by hitting the water with its breast, take a plunge, and returning back to its perch and shaking the water off its body. They prefer to live in the shady, dense forest. Males have a tendency to become more vocal if they see any territorial neighbours.
Courtship rituals include male’s rapid aerial chases; and often hovering above the female as she sits on a tree branch. Once the pair is formed, female make the nest, which can be as high as 50 feet from the ground, mostly in a deciduous forest. The nest is a loosely made cup lined with grass, twigs, stems, as well as other plant fibres. Females lay 2 to 4 eggs which are creamy white with light brown spots. The incubation process lasts for 13 to 15 days, and it is usually done by the female. The newly hatched young ones are fed by both parents. Juveniles take their first flight in two to three weeks since hatching. Male often feed the juveniles as female starts to incubate the second clutch.
They are primarily insect eaters. They feed on caterpillars, wasps, ants, beetles, bees, flies, moths and bugs among others. At times, they also feed on berries, fruits and spiders.
Their lifespan in the wild is not known. The oldest known lifespan was around 12.
This bird produces distinct ‘tee-chup’ and ‘peet-sah’ notes depending on the time of the day. Their communication notes can also vary depending on its territory.
Nest predation is not uncommon. Eggs and juveniles are often hunted by American crows, Broad-winged hawks, Red-tailed hawks, Blue jays, Red-shouldered hawks, Barred owls, Squirrels, Chipmunks, Southern flying squirrels, Cats etc.
This bird is sensitive to deforestation and habitat fragmentation. Their population has gone down in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota, and in south-east Canada. They are protected by the Migratory Bird Act. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has kept Empidonax virescens in the ‘Least concern’ category.
In some of its native regions, Brown-headed cowbird has been noted to lay eggs in the nests of the Acadian flycatcher.
They are often confused with other birds belonging to genus Empidonax, such as Alder flycatchers, Yellow-bellied flycatchers, Least flycatchers and Willow flycatchers among others.
Partners in Flight suggested that their worldwide breeding population is around 4.5 million individuals.
The fifteen species belonging to genus Empidonax were thought to be one single species that was discovered in present-day Nova Scotia. However, differences in voice tones, range and habitat identified them as different species. Empidonax virescens was not found in present-day Nova Scotia.
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