Species At Risk

Olive-sided Flycatcher

(Contopus cooperi)


Olive-sided Flycatcher


The Olive-sided Flycatcher is a medium- sized songbird about 18-20 cm long. Its name reflects its appearance, with the feathers along its sides and back a deep brownish olive-gray colour against a white front. They are often seen perching at the top of tall trees, where they wait for flying insects (their prey) to pass by. They have a loud, three note whistle that sounds like they are singing “quick, three beers.”

Action we are taking:


The Olive-sided Flycatcher has a broad breeding range across Canada and the western and northeastern United States. Just over half the range is found in Canada, where it breeds in every province and territory except Nunavut. Its breeding population is most dense along the west coast from southern British Columbia to California. In Ontario, it is widely distributed throughout the central and northern areas of the province.

In late summer, Olive-sided Flycatchers undertake an amazingly long migration to wintering grounds in Panama and the Andes Mountains from Venezuela to Peru and Bolivia.


The Olive-sided Flycatcher is most often found along natural forest edges and openings. It will use forests that have been logged or burned, if there are ample tall snags and trees to use for foraging perches.

Olive-sided Flycatchers’ breeding habitat usually consists of coniferous or mixed forest adjacent to rivers or wetlands. In Ontario, Olive-sided Flycatchers commonly nest in conifers such as White and Black Spruce, Jack Pine and Balsam Fir.


The cause of Olive-sided Flycatcher decline is unclear. Likely threats to the species include habitat loss and alteration of both breeding and wintering grounds. There is some evidence to suggest that individuals breeding in managed forests have lower nest success compared to those breeding in natural forest stands. Olive-sided Flycatchers may also be declining because of declining insect prey.


The Olive-sided Flycatcher is a special concern species under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act. A management plan will be prepared.

The Olive-sided Flycatcher was also assessed as nationally threatened by the federal Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

What You Can Do to Help the Olive-sided Flycatcher

  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • As with all wildlife, don’t disturb nests, young or adults. Be respectful and observe from a distance.
  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as the Olive-sided Flycatcher. You can use an online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful! http://nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca/species/species_report.cfm .
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • As with many other rare plants and animals, the Olive- sided Flycatcher is at risk due to the loss of forested areas. You can help by protecting any forests and surrounding natural vegetation on your property.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in Olive-sided Flycatcher recovery. If you find an Olive-sided Flycatcher or nest on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats. For more information visit ontario.ca/speciesatrisk.
  • 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.

Did you know?

Nesting males and females aggressively defend their nest by dive-bombing and bill-snapping at potential predators such as other birds and squirrels.

Did you know?

The loud and distinct “quick, three beers” song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher can be heard from up to a kilometre away.

Did you know?

The Olive-sided Flycatcher makes dashing and swooping flights from its high perch to catch its prey, flying insects. This type of behaviour is called “sallying” or “yo-yo flight.”

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.