Olive-sided Flycatcher (Contopus cooperi)



  • BC: Yellow – S4B (2022)
  • COSEWIC: Special Concern
  • SARA: Threatened (2010)
  • Global: Apparently Secure (2016)
  • Galiano Island Status: Confirmed


The olive-sided flycatcher is a medium-sized songbird 18-20 cm in length. Adults are a deep brownish olive-grey above and on the sides and flanks, with white on the throat, centre of breast and belly. The wings are dark with pale, indistinct wing bars, and the bill is stout. The most distinctive features of the olive-sided flycatcher are its tendency to conspicuously perch on the top of tall trees or snags while foraging and the song—a loud three-note whistle: Quick, THREE BEERS!. The olive-sided flycatcher is also considered an indicator species of the coniferous forests throughout North America. Their diet consists of a wide variety of flying insects, which it captures via aerial attack.


The olive-sided flycatcher is most often associated with open areas containing tall trees or snags for perching. Open areas may be forest openings, forest edges near natural openings (such as rivers, muskeg, bogs or swamps) or human-made openings (such as logged areas), burned forest or open to semi-open mature forest stands. There is evidence that birds nesting in harvested habitats experience significantly lower breeding success than those nesting in natural (e.g. burned) openings. Generally, forest habitat is either coniferous or mixed coniferous.


The olive-sided flycatcher breeds throughout much of forested Canada and in the western and northeastern United States. Approximately 54% of its breeding range is in Canada. The winter distribution is more restricted, being primarily in Panama and the Andes Mountains from Venezuela to Peru and Bolivia.


Evidence from the western United States suggests that there is significantly lower nest success in harvested stands compared with fire origin stands. Resolution of the role of forest management in olive-sided flycatcher population decline in Canada is hampered by thinly distributed populations. Habitat alteration and loss on migration and wintering grounds may also be a contributing factor in population declines. Support for this is provided by the 72 consistent population declines across a wide breeding range, whereas non-breeding areas are more geographically restricted.

Galiano Status

A migratory population is established on Galiano Island.

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