South Dakota
Birds and Birding
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Olive-sided Flycatcher

Contopus cooperi

Length: 7.5 inches Wingspan: 13 inches Seasonality: Migrant
ID Keys: Dark mottled sides with white stripe down middle of chest, relatively short tail, brownish-olive upperparts

Olive-sided Flycatcher - Contopus cooperiThe Olive-sided Flycatcher is most often observed as it perches high in the tree tops, giving out an occasional pip-pip call and flying out to capture flying insects. While they are generally reclusive and solitary, they will vigorously defend their nesting location from intruders.

Habitat: Primarily found in conifer forests, especially near clearings along burned areas, rivers and lakes, and wetlands. 

Diet: Feeds almost exclusively on flying insects, especially bees, wasps, winged ants, and items as large as cicadas and large beetles.

Behavior: Nearly always catches insects in flight, observing from a perch and flying out to capture flying insects passing by.

Breeding: There are no definite records of breeding within South Dakota, but there have been several breeding season observations in the Black Hills (see "Birds of South Dakota", SDOU, 2002).

Song: Song is often described as "quick three beers", with the second note higher.

Migration: Summers throughout much of the southern half of Canada, the upper Great Lakes, New England, and in higher elevations and near the coast in the western United States.  Primarily winters in South America, with a few in Central America.

Similar Species: Eastern Wood Pewee, Western Wood Pewee

Conservation Status: Olive-sided Flycatchers have shown decreases in population over the last several decades, a pace of decrease which may have increased in the last 20 years.  This may be due to loss of habitat in its wintering grounds in South America. 

Further Information: 1) Patuxent Wildlife Research Center info -- Olive-sided Flycatcher

2)  Cornell University's "All About Birds - Olive-sided Flycatcher"

3) eNature.com: Olive-sided Flycatcher

Photo Information: May 26th, 2004 -- Outdoor Campus in Sioux Falls -- Terry Sohl

 

Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
Olive-sided Flycatcher - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Rare migrant.  See notes on breeding above regarding summer sightings in the Black Hills.
 

Additional Olive-sided Flycatcher Photos (coming soon!)