Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Scientific Name: Empidonax traillii extimus

Species Abbreviation: SWFL

Status:

  • Federally Endangered Species;
  • New Mexico State Endangered Species;
  • New Mexico Species of Greatest Conservation Need

In 1995, the Southwestern willow flycatcher (SWFL) was federally listed as endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In 1996, the status of the species was listed as endangered by New Mexico State.

Southwestern willow flycatcher

Photo Credit: Shannon Caruso

Description

The SWFL is a small perching bird that is less than 5.75 inches long, weighing 11–12 grams. A subspecies of Empidonax trailii, one of 10 North American flycatcher species in the genus Empidonax, it shares its coloration with four related subspecies. The species has white eye-rings and olive-brown upperparts with two white wing bars, a white throat, a pale olive breast, and a light yellowish body. The males and females of the species look alike but the juveniles differ from adults by having buffy wing bars. The song of the SWFL is a distinctive sneezy fitz-bew or feech-a-bew.

The SWFL requires moist microclimatic and vegetative conditions. It breeds in dense riparian vegetation near surface water or saturated soil, which allows it to feed on insects, such as dragonflies, ants, bees, sawflies, gnats, mosquitos, cicadas, and aphids. The species will spend only 3–4 months of the year paired with a mate for the breeding season. The birds breed in suitable areas of the Southwestern U.S. and travel south to winter in Mexico, Central America, and northern regions of South America. The SWFL breeds in late spring/early summer and the female lays 3–4 eggs in late May to early June. During this time, males sometimes sing up to 30 seconds a minute, typically from the highest point in their territory. Once the eggs hatch, males sing far less frequently.

Distribution

The SWFL migrates across riparian habitat in Southwestern U.S., before traveling south for winter. The species’ historic range is similar to its current distribution, but population numbers have declined dramatically over the years due to loss of riparian habitat and invasive species. The SWFL currently ranges from southern California, through southern Nevada, southern Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and southwestern Colorado. Historically, its range also included western Texas and extreme northwestern Mexico.

Conservation

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implemented and completed a plan for recovery of the SWFL in 2002, when it was estimated that only 900 to 1,100 pairs existed. A study in 2007 led to an increase in the population estimate to 1,299 pairs. The decline of the SWFL is primary believed to be due to degradation and loss of native riparian habitats. One example of habitat loss is due to livestock grazing, which kills riparian vegetation that could be used for SWFL nesting. Furthermore, nonnative plant species, such as tamarisk (aka saltcedar; Tamarix spp.), has overtaken SWFL nesting habitats. Tamarisk does not provide the thermal protection for birds that native broadleaf species do. The brown-headed cowbird (Molothrus ater) also threatens the species through brood parasitism.

In 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service revised SWFL critical habitat. Current habitat designation aligns with recovery plan goals and identifies 1,975 stream kilometers in Southwestern U.S. as critical SWFL habitat. MRGESCP signatories have collaborated to conduct studies, monitoring, surveys, habitat restoration, and nonnative species removal to monitor and improve conditions for the SWFL. Please reference the MRGESCP FY18 Annual Report for additional information on activities regarding the SWFL.

Documents

2021

Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program June 2021 Newsletter

MRGESCP

Document Type: Newsletter

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2020

Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program Long-Term Plan

MRGESCP

Document Type: Program Plan

Species:

New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse Pecos Sunflower Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2020

Avian Noise Disturbance Study

Dillon K.G., Moore D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2020

Photographic Monitoring of Defoliation by the Tamarisk Beetle

Dillon K.G., Moore D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2020

2019 Middle Rio Grande Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Study Results

Moore D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2020

Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program Science & Adaptive Management Plan

MRGESCP

Document Type: Program Plan

Species:

New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse Pecos Sunflower Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2019

Pueblo of Santa Ana: Environmental Variables Associated With the Rio Grande and Rio Jemez Riparian Corridor

Schroeder N., Nishida C.

Document Type: Presentation

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2019

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Status and Monitoring in the Middle Rio Grande

Moore S.D.

Document Type: Presentation

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

Organization:

2019

2018 Report for the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Project; 16 Years of Monitoring

Siegle R., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2017

2016 Monitoring Report for the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Project

Siegle R., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2017

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Breeding Site and Territory Summary - 2012

Durst S.L.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2016

2015 Monitoring Report for the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Project

Siegle R., Reed G., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2015

2014 Monitoring Report for the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Project

Siegle R., Reed G., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2011/09/29-30

2011 September 29-30 Population Viability Analysis/Biology Work Group Meeting Materials

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes , Presentation

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2011/06/23

2011 June 23 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2011/05/24

2011 May 24 Population Viability Analysis/Biology Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2011/02/24

2011 February 24 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2011/02/11

2011 February 11 Species Water Management Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2011/01/27

2011 January 27 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2011

Adaptive Management and ESA-Driven Habitat Restoration in the Middle Rio Grande

Marcus M., Horner M., Blake F., Griego J.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2011

MRGESCP Adaptive Management Plan Version 1

Murray C., Smith C., Marmorek D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

2011

Secure Water Act Section 9503(c) - Reclamation Climate Change and Water

Reclamation

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2010/11/04

2010 November 4 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2010/08/26

2010 August 26 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2010/07/14

2010 July 14 Coordination Committee Meeting Materials

MRGESCP

Document Type: Agenda , Minutes

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2010/06/24

2010 June 24 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2010/05/27

2010 May 27 San Acacia Work Group Meeting Minutes

MRGESCP

Document Type: Minutes

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Groups:

2010

Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program: Adaptive Management Plan Development Volume II: Cost/Price Proposal

ESSA Technologies Ltd. and Headwaters Corporation

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2010

Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program: Adaptive Management Plan Development Volume I: Technical Proposal

ESSA Technologies Ltd. and Headwaters Corporation

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2010

Middle Rio Grande Isleta Reach Phase II Riverine Habitat Restoration Project Biological Assessment

SWCA Environmental Consultants

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2010

Annual Monitoring Report for the City of Albuquerque's Rio Bravo North and South Habitat Restoration Projects: 2009

SWCA Environmental Consultants

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2009

2008 Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Study Results

Moore D., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2009

Annual Report for the City of Albuquerque's Rio Bravo North and Rio Bravo South Habitat Restoration Projects: 2007 and 2008

CoA Open Space

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2009

Literature Review on Water Needs of the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Copeland S.L., Beane R.D., Paradzick C.E., Sommers C.L.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

Riparian Groundwater Models for the Middle Rio Grande: ESA Collaborative Program FY07

S.S. Papadopulos & Associates, Inc., NMISC

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

Riparian Groundwater Models for the Middle Rio Grande: ESA Collaborative Program FY07, Model Refinement

S.S. Papadopulos & Associates, Inc., NMISC

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

2007 Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Study Results

Moore D., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

Pueblo of Sandia Habitat Restoration Analysis and Recommendations Middle Rio Grande Endangered Species Collaborative Program Bernalillo County, New Mexico

SWCA Environmental Consultants

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission Middle Rio Grande Riverine Restoration Project Phase I 2007 Monitoring Report

SWCA Environmental Consultants, Mussetter Engineering, Inc.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

Monitoring Report for Phase II Albuquerque Reach Riverine Restoration and Habitat Improvement for the Rio Grande Silvery Minnow

SWCA Environmental Consultants, Mussetter Engineering, Inc.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2008

Water Requirements for Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Habitat and Nesting at the Pueblo of Isleta 2006-2007 Final Report

Smith J., Johnson K.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2007

Evapotranspiration in the Middle Rio Grande Bosque

Cleverly J.R., Pockman W.T., Dahm C.N.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2007

2007 Geomorphic Summary of the Middle Rio Grande Velarde to Caballo

Massong T.M., Makar P., Bauer T.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2007

Middle Rio Grande Riverine Restoration Project Phase II Environmental Assessment

SWCA Environmental Consultants

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2007

Middle Rio Grande Riverine Restoration Project Phase I Annual Report

SWCA Environmental Consultants, Mussetter Engineering, Inc.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2006

Final Middle Rio Grande Riverine Habitat Restoration Phase II Biological Assessment, New Mexico

SWCA Environmental Consultants

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2006

2005 Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Study Results

Reclamation

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2006

2005 Monitoring Report for the Los Lunas Habitat Restoration Site

Siegle R.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

2005

Progress Report on Los Lunas Floodplain Monitoring 2003-2005

Magana H., Horner M.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2005

2004 Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Study Results

Reclamation

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2005

Middle Rio Grande Hydrograph Data Collection Plan: "Overbank Monitoring of the 2005 High Flow Spring Release From Cochiti Dam"

Tetra Tech, Inc.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2004

Vegetation Mapping of the Rio Grande Floodplain 2002-2004

Callahan D., White L.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2004

Middle Rio Grande "Overbank Monitoring Study"

Tetra Tech, Inc.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2003

2002 Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Study Results

Moore D., Ahlers D.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Yellow-Billed Cuckoo

Organization:

2003

Corrales Reach Corrales Flood Channel to Montano Bridge Hydraulic Modeling Analysis (1962-2001)

Albert J., Sixta M., León C., Julien P.Y.

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Rio Grande Silvery Minnow Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization:

2002

Final Recovery Plan Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus)

USFWS

Document Type: Publication

Species:

Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Organization: