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Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center

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Forest and Rangeland Birds of the United States

Natural History and Habitat Use

Olive-sided Flycatcher -- Contopus borealis

RANGE: Breeds from western and central Alaska and central Yukon to northern Ontario, south-central Quebec, and southern Labrador south to southern California across to western Texas, and east of the Rocky Mountains, to central Saskatchewan, northern Wisconsin, northeastern Ohio, and Massachusetts; also locally in the Appalachians to western North Carolina. Winters in South America and, casually, in southern California.

STATUS: Local to fairly common.

HABITAT: Inhabits montane and northern coniferous forests up to 10,000 feet in elevation, especially in burned-over areas with tall standing dead trees. Prefers forests of tall spruces, firs, balsams, and pines; groves of eucalyptus and Monterey cypress; taiga; subalpine coniferous forests; mixed woodlands near edges and clearings; and wooded streams and borders of northern bogs and muskegs. Prefers stands with a low percentage of canopy cover.

SPECIAL HABITAT REQUIREMENTS: Tall, exposed perches such as snags or high, conspicuous dead branches.

NEST: Usually hides nests in a cluster of needles and twigs on a horizontal branch of a conifer, well away from the trunk, usually between 15 and 50 feet above the ground.

FOOD: Typically perches in tree tops and on high exposed limbs to hawk flying insects.

REFERENCES: Bent 1942, Beal 1912, DeGraff et al. 1980, Forbush and May 1955, Johnsgard 1979, Terres 1980.

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