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Southwestern Willow Flycatcher


Southwestern willow flycatcher resting on a tree branch.

The endangered Southwestern willow flycatcher lives in riparian areas in the Southwest (Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife).

Map of flycatcher priority habitat in AZ, CA, CO, NV, MN, UT 

Click to enlarge map (GIF, 194KB)

What's New

In 2015, NRCS worked with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to update the biological opinion (PDF, 132KB) for conservation work in this habitat, which expanded opportunities for producers to participate. This update added six additional conservation practices and expanded predictability to a total of 84 species. Learn more.


Vegetative recommendations for creating habitat for Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Biological Opinion for Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (PDF, 132KB)

Re-Initiation of Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Biological Assessment (PDF, 3.3MB)


Galon Hall, (202) 690-1588

Working Lands for Wildlife assists landowners in restoring degraded riparian ecosystems, conserving existing healthy riparian systems and improving working lands near riparian areas. The program will focus on increasing and improving occupied, suitable, and potential breeding habitat, supporting southwestern willow flycatcher recovery.

The Southwestern willow flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) is a small Neotropical migratory bird that lives in riparian areas and wetlands in the arid Southwest. It is listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

The flycatcher’s current range is similar to its historic range, but its population has declined because of a decrease in habitat caused by surface water diversion, groundwater pumping, changes in flood and fire regimens, and spread of non-native and invasive plants.

The flycatcher nests in native trees and shrubs where available but also nests in thickets dominated by the non-native invasive species like tamarisk and Russian olive. Efforts to control non-native species can be detrimental to flycatchers, especially if those plants are removed in places lacking in suitable native riparian habitat.

Restoring habitat for the Southwestern willow flycatcher not only benefits the flycatcher but many other species, such as the New Mexico jumping mouse, yellow billed cuckoo, Chiricahua leopard frog and the Least Bell’s vireo. Eighty-four species, including the flycatcher, benefit from conservation work in riparian ecosystems.

Goals and Objectives

Working Lands for Wildlife will assist private landowners with protection and restoration of breeding habitat, combating habitat losses because of surface water diversion and groundwater pumping, changes in flood and fire regimes, and non-native and invasive plant management. WLFW also provides landowners with predictability under the Endangered Species Act, providing incidental take coverage for 84 wildlife species that occupy the riparian systems of the Southwest.

Core Practices

395 Stream Habitat Improvement and Management
643 Restoration and Management of Rare and Declining Habitats  
644 Wetland Wildlife Habitat Management
645 Upland Wildlife Habitat Management

See a full list of conservation practices.


  • Protect, maintain, and restore riparian habitat.  
  • Increase and improve occupied, suitable, and potential breeding habitat.
  • Manage livestock grazing to increase habitat quality and quantity.
  • Improve weed and invasive species management.  
  • Increase connectivity of existing habitat.  
  • Provide public education and outreach.

Outcomes and Impacts

Landowners will enhance, restore and protect habitat for southwestern willow flycatcher and other riparian habitat species, aiding in the implementation of its recovery plan and increase landowner confidence that the conservation practices they implement will not harm the species or its habitat. Plus, landowners who work with NRCS can receive predictability under the Endangered Species Act for up to 30 years. Predictability enables landowners to operate their farms and ranches as long as NRCS-prescribed conservation practices are maintained.

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