A PhotoBlog Series by Jim Gain
Beautiful Birds of the Sierra Nevada – Blog Post #3
- Scientific Name: Contopus cooperi
- Family: Tyrannidae
- Conservation Status: IUCN Red List species of “Least Concern”
- Occurrence, Residency and Breeding Status: Olive-sided Flycatcher is a fairly common summer resident and regular breeder
- Favored Biotic Zone(s): Lower and Upper Montane Zones
ABOUT THIS SPECIES
The Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi) is a long-distance migrant that breeds in coniferous forests of North America, especially around the edges of open areas such as bogs, ponds, and clearings. In California, it breeds mostly in the Sierra Nevada mountains, where it prefers tall trees in foothill canyons and subalpine forests . It winters in northern South America and along the Andean mountains.
The Olive-sided Flycatcher feeds mainly on flying insects, such as wasps, bees, ants, beetles, and grasshoppers. It forages by perching on a high, exposed branch, often on a dead tree, and flying out to catch insects in the air. It returns to the same perch or another nearby to eat its prey.
The Olive-sided Flycatcher nests in trees, usually on a horizontal branch well out from the trunk. It builds a flat open cup of twigs, grass, and weeds, lined with finer materials. The nest is usually well hidden among dense foliage or needles. The female lays 3 eggs, which she incubates for about 16 days. Both parents feed the young, which leave the nest after about 22 days. The Olive-sided Flycatcher has a distinctive call that sounds like “pip-pip” or “quick-three-beers”. It sings incessantly in spring to defend its territory and attract a mate.
The Olive-sided Flycatcher is considered a species of conservation concern by several agencies and organizations. It has been declining in some regions for many years, particularly in recent decades. The loss of wintering habitat, fire suppression, logging, and climate change are some of the possible threats to this species.
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