Species At Risk

Acadian Flycatcher

(Empidonax virescens)


Acadian Flycatcher
Acadian Flycatcher occurrences map


The Acadian Flycatcher has an olive-green crown, back and tail with a pale whitish throat and breast. The most prominent feature of this bird is the bold white ring around the eye, and two whitish horizontal bars on the wing. The beak is short but wide-based, allowing a big opening for snatching insects out of the air. The best way to identify the Acadian from similar looking flycatchers is its explosive song, often interpreted as “peet-sah”, with a strong emphasis on the first syllable.


In Canada, the Acadian Flycatcher nests only in southwestern Ontario, mostly in large forests and forested ravines near the shore of Lake Erie. It has also been known to nest at a few sites in the Greater Toronto Area but this is unusual. The Acadian Flycatcher population in Ontario is very small, with 25 to 75 breeding pairs recorded in 2010.


In Ontario, the Acadian Flycatcher primarily lives in the warmer climate of southern Ontario’s Carolinian forests. It needs large, undisturbed forests, often more than 40 hectares in size. It is typically found in mature, shady forests with ravines, or in forested swamps with lots of maple and beech trees. The nest is placed near the tip of a lower limb on a tree, and is loosely woven, with strands of plant material hanging down.


The main threat to the Acadian Flycatcher is habitat loss and degradation due to clearing of forests for agricultural and urban development. The larger tracts of mature forest that are closed-canopy with open understorey, preferred by the species, are relatively rare to uncommon in southern Ontario.


The Acadian Flycatcher is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help the Acadian Flycatcher

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Acadian Flycatcher. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find the Acadian Flycatcher on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.
  • Bird Studies Canada is working to advance the understanding, appreciation and conservation of wild birds and their habitat in Ontario and elsewhere. For more information on how you can help, visit: www.bsc-eoc.org.
  • The Carolinian forests of southern Ontario support an amazing diversity of plants and wildlife, including many species at risk. Carolinian Canada is working to help recover species at risk and their habitats. For more information, visit: www.carolinian.org/SpeciesHabitats.htm.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • The Canada-Ontario Farm Stewardship Program is available to farmers registered under the Canada-Ontario Environmental Farm Plan to encourage greater protection and conservation of habitat for species at risk. Find more information at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/environment/efp/efp.htm.

Did you know?

The Acadian Flycatcher only spends about four months of the year in Canada. The rest of the time, it is migrating or wintering in the tropical forests of Central America and northern South America.

Did you know?

The Carolinian forests where this bird lives in Ontario were named by early explorers, who observed that the deciduous forests in southwestern Ontario were similar to more southerly temperate forests found in the Carolinas and elsewhere in the eastern United States.

Did you know?

Ontario’s Carolinian forest supports more than 40 per cent of Canada’s species at risk and is one of the most threatened habitats in Canada.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.