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Montana Field Guide

Montana Field Guides

Hammond's Flycatcher - Empidonax hammondii

Native Species

Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4B
(see State Rank Reason below)

Agency Status
PIF: 2

External Links

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Copyright by Borror Laboratory of Bioacoustics, Department of Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, all rights reserved.
State Rank Reason (see State Rank above)
Species is apparently secure and not at risk of extirpation or facing significant threats in all or most of its range.
  • Details on Status Ranking and Review
    Hammond's Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii) Conservation Status Review
    Review Date = 01/15/2009
    View State Conservation Rank Criteria
    Population Size

    ScoreU - Unknown


    Range Extent

    ScoreG - 200,000-2,500,000 km squared (about 80,000-1,000,000 square miles)

    Comment220207 square kilometers based on Natural Heritage Program range maps

    Area of Occupancy

    ScoreH - >20,000 km squared (greater than 5,000,000 acres)

    Comment40,945 square kilometers based on GAP predicted model.

    Long-term Trend

    ScoreE - Relatively Stable (±25% change)

    CommentMature conifer and mixed conifer forest and riparian habitats have declined since European arrival, but are probably stable within +/-25%.

    Short-term Trend

    ScoreF - Increasing. Increase of >10% in population, range, area occupied, and/or number or condition of occurrences

    CommentBreeding Bird Survey (BBS) data is of moderate credibility in Montana and shows an increase of 5.3% per year since 1980 which is a 68 percent increase over a 10 year time period. Surrounding states also show increasing trends. CBC also shows relative stability with possible declines in last couple of years.


    ScoreB - Moderate and imminent threat. Threat is moderate to severe and imminent for a significant proportion (20-60%) of the population or area.

    CommentLoss of mature forests with high canopy cover due to fire and beetle kill

    SeverityModerate - Major reduction of species population or long-term degradation or reduction of habitat in Montana, requiring 50-100 years for recovery.

    CommentLoss of mature trees takes a long time to recover canopy

    ScopeModerate - 20-60% of total population or area affected

    CommentFire and beetle kill are drastically changing a large portion of the landscape

    ImmediacyModerate - Threat is likely to be operational within 2-5 years.

    CommentOngoing but could accelerate

    Intrinsic Vulnerability

    ScoreC - Not Intrinsically Vulnerable. Species matures quickly, reproduces frequently, and/or has high fecundity such that populations recover quickly (< 5 years or 2 generations) from decreases in abundance; or species has high dispersal capability such that extirpated populations soon become reestablished through natural recolonization (unaided by humans).

    Environmental Specificity

    ScoreB - Narrow. Specialist. Specific habitat(s) or other abiotic and/or biotic factors (see above) are used or required by the Element, but these key requirements are common and within the generalized range of the species within the area of interest.

    CommentRely on mature forests with dense canopies, but these are widespread

General Description
Similar to the Dusky and Gray Flycatchers whose habitats occasionally overlap theirs. The Hammond's Flycatcher is a small suboscine, 12.5 to 14.5 cm, 7.7 to 12.1 g. Sexually monomorphic. During breeding season, males have cloacal protuberance, females have brood patch. Upper parts grayish olive; head more grayish with less olive; sides of breast and upper breast dark gray. Abdomen and undertail coverts yellowish to whitish depending on extent of prenuptial molt; yellow or white of abdomen bordered by darkish flanks gives some birds a vested appearance. Throat pale gray; outer web of outer tail feathers grayish white; whitish eye-ring, often thicker behind eye. Wing-bars narrow and whitish in adults and broader and buffy in hatching year birds (Sedgwick 1994).

VOCALIZATIONS: Call notes include a sharp peek or pip given by both sexes, and a soft, descending "k-lear" or "k-lear whee-zee" most commonly given by males. Song is a burry "se-put tsurrt chu-lup", lower and huskier than Dusky Flycatcher (Empidonax oberholseri), which is slightly more musical. The song sequence may consist of all three elements or the elements given singly or in couplets, such as "tseep tsurp" (Sedgwick 1994, NGS 1999). Males sing most frequently in morning and before dusk, but will sing throughout the day, and usually use perches in mid- to upper-canopy (Sedgwick 1994).

For a comprehensive review of the conservation status, habitat use, and ecology of this and other Montana bird species, please see Marks et al. 2016, Birds of Montana.

Diagnostic Characteristics
See Whitney and Kaufmann (1985) for details on identification.

Species Range
Montana Range Range Descriptions

All Ranges
(Click legend blocks to view individual ranges)

Western Hemisphere Range

eBird Occurrence Map

Click the map for more info.
Courtesy of eBird and Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Observations in Montana Natural Heritage Program Database
Number of Observations: 9135

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density


SUMMER (Feb 16 - Dec 14)
Direct Evidence of Breeding

Indirect Evidence of Breeding

No Evidence of Breeding

WINTER (Dec 15 - Feb 15)
Regularly Observed

Not Regularly Observed


(Observations spanning multiple months or years are excluded from time charts)

Inhabits cool forest and woodland, breeding primarily in dense fir, mature coniferous or mixed forests to near timberline (Sedgwick 1994).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (common or occasional) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2012, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species' range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point observation database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of "observations versus availability of habitat".
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were listed as associated with an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not listed as associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  Common versus occasional association with an ecological system was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species as represented in scientific literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignment of common versus occasional association.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact the Montana Natural Heritage Program's Senior Zoologist.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species' known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2012.  Mammals of Montana.  Second edition.  Mountain Press Publishing, Missoula, Montana.  429 pp.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana's amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Diet consists of insects. The Hammond's Flycatcher is primarily an aerial forager, capturing most of its insect diet on the wing. On occasion it may forage from leaf surfaces or from the ground (Sedgwick 1994).

Territory sizes of 1.6 to 3.2 acres in Douglas-fir or lodgepole forests in western Montana have been reported. In western Montana, 80% and 52% of singing and non-singing perches were in the upper one-third of mature conifers.

Reproductive Characteristics
In western Montana, nests were saddled on limbs of mature conifers, 10.5 to 40 feet high. They breed in June and July. Near the Fortine area, young were being fed on July 19.

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Citation for data on this website:
Hammond's Flycatcher — Empidonax hammondii.  Montana Field Guide.  .  Retrieved on , from