SOUTHWESTERN WILLOW FLYCATCHER } Empidonax traillii extimus
RANGE: Breeds in Southern California, Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, southern Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and possibly northern Baja California and Sonora, Mexico (very rare if present); winters from southern Mexico to northern South America
STATUS: Listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act
THREATS: Water projects, urban and agricultural sprawl, livestock grazing, global warming, brown cowbird parasitism, replacement of native habitats by introduced plant species, vegetation clearing, and fire
Whether it’s trilling its distinct “fitz-bew” song, constructing its tiny, cup-like nest, or swooping from a willow to catch insects over a desert stream, the southwestern willow flycatcher is a bird of beauty and aptitude. Unfortunately, the destruction of streamside forests in the American Southwest has robbed the flycatcher of more than 90 percent of its feeding, breeding, and nesting grounds and left it all the more vulnerable to other birds that prey on its eggs or use its nests to incubate their own eggs. Thanks to a petition and litigation by the Center for Biological Diversity, the bird is protected under the Endangered Species Act, and so is some of its habitat — but currently not nearly enough. The Center is still working to compel the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to safeguard adequate acreage to ensure the recovery of this flycatcher, one of North America’s most endangered songbirds.
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