Empidonax Wrightii – Gray Flycatcher

Empidonax Wrightii - Gray Flycatcher found in the US

The American gray flycatcher or simply gray flycatcher, Empidonax wrightii is a tiny insectivorous passerine in the tyrant flycatcher family found in North America. It is prevalent in western North America’s desert regions, particularly the Great Basin. This flycatcher forages hunts insects from shrubs or low tree branches in a variety of habitats, from sagebrush steppes to pinyon-juniper woodlands and ponderosa pine forests.

Quick Overview: Empidonax Wrightii – Gray Flycatcher
Body size: Around 6 in (15 cm) and a weight of 11 g (0.4 oz)
Main colors: Olive-brown, Yellow, Olive-Gray, White
Range: Western United States
Migratory Bird: Yes
Best time of the year to see in the U.S.: June, July, August, September
Conservation Status: Least Concern

Gray flycatcher Description

Olive-brown upperparts, yellow neck and belly, olive-gray breast; little flycatcher. White and extended eye-ring. Dark wings with two pale bands. Bill is lengthy and dark in the top mandible, but bright yellow in the lower mandible.

Empidonax Wrightii - Gray Flycatcher found in the US
Empidonax Wrightii – Gray Flycatcher. Photo by: Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife


These birds have a length of 6 in (15 cm) and a weight of 11 g (0.4 oz). Their wings could range from 9.5 in (24 cm).


Gray Flycatchers hunt for insects deftly in sagebrush, pine, and juniper areas, frequently extremely low in the plants and occasionally on the ground.


The Gray Flycatcher nests in sagebrush areas and open juniper and pinyon pine woodlands, a drier habitat than that of the majority of its relatives.


Although the diet and foraging behavior of this species has not been thoroughly studied, observed foraging behaviors include picking insects off the ground from a perch or in flight, as well as traditional flycatcher behaviors such as sallying for flying insects or hovering to pluck insects from vegetation.

Empidonax Wrightii Scientific Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Subphylum: Chelicerata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Tyrannidae
  • Genus: Empidonax
  • Species: Empidonax wrightii

Best time of the year to see

The best time to see these birds in the United States is during the summer season (June – September).

Distribution of the Gray flycatcher in the USA

Breeds in extreme southern British Columbia and southwest Wyoming as well as in California, Arizona, and New Mexico. Spends winters in southern California, southern Arizona, southern Texas, and central-western Mexico.

The Gray flycatcher can be found in the following states in the United States – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Nevada, Utah, and Oklahoma.

Empidonax Wrightii – Gray Flycatcher

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