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Working Lands for Wildlife - Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

Working Lands For Wildlife banner, Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

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.

Thumbnail of southwestern willow flycatcher focal area map

Click for full size map (PDF, 446KB)

For more information:

Galon Hall, Working Lands for Wildlife Coordinator, (202) 690-2196


2015 Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Progress Report and Scorecard (PDF, 358KB)

2014 WLFW Progress Report (PDF, 1MB)

2013 WLFW Progress Report (PDF, 750KB)


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


  • 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.
  • Support sustainable grazing management that results in residual nesting cover and supports native plant communities.
  • Increase connectivity of existing lesser prairie chicken habitat.
  • Improve weed and invasive species management.
  • Reduce tillage on agricultural fields.
  • Protect, maintain, and restore large tracts of native oak/tallgrass or sand sagebrush grassland.
  • Maintain stability of land use, and conserve shrub-dominated habitats near lek sites.
  • Promote use of government programs that provide incentives for development or restoration of habitat on private lands.

Outcomes and Impacts

Working Lands for Wildlife will complement the existing Lesser Prairie Chicken Initiative, by providing additional targeted funding to help farmers and ranchers enhance, restore and protect habitat for lesser prairie chicken, and increase landowner confidence that the conservation practices they volunteer to implement will not harm the species or its habitat.

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