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Olive-sided Flycatcher

Credit: R. Hocken

Contopus cooperi

Species at Risk Status

Federal Government status: Threatened

Provincial Government status: Special Concern


  • Large, stocky flycatcher with a relatively short tail.
  • Its back and side feathers are a brownish, olive- gray colour. The center of its breast is white.
  • Well known for its distinctive “quick-three-beers” song.

Habits and Reproduction

  • Captures its meals in flight and specializes in bees, wasps, large flies, beetles and dragonflies. They are a “sit-and-wait” predator that remains perched until flying insects are sighted.
  • Breeding territories are quite large. The nests are usually placed on the outer reaches of branches in dense clusters of twigs and needles high in a conifer tree. Most nest building occurs from mid-May to mid-June; the peak of egg laying is mid-June to early July, and incubation of the 3-4 eggs lasts about two weeks. They are known to defend their nest aggressively even chasing red squirrels away.
  • The young may fledge as late as early September. Females do all the incubation and brooding while the males provide food for the female. Both parents feed the young. There is only one brood per year.
  • Migration begins in late July, probably by failed breeders; the others leave this area by mid-September.


  • Prefers open or edge habitat in coniferous and mixed forests. These openings may be caused by forest fires or along streams and shorelines, where natural edges occur and insect densities are high.
  • Areas that still have a number of tall live trees or snags provide the perfect location for singing and darting out to catch flying insects.


  • Threats may include disturbance while the birds are nesting by activities such as logging and events that impact insect populations such as abnormal weather or application of insecticides. Since they overwinter in South America, the extensive deforestation of Andean slopes is removing habitat for this and many other species.

Conservation Actions

  • Shade grown coffee presents a tremendous opportunity for both conservation and economic gain for South American farmers. Coffee grown under the forest canopy can provide our migratory birds with a safe refuge. Please purchase shade grown, preferably organic coffee.
  • Choose Forest Stewardship Council certified (FSC) wood products.

Range Map

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