Ash-Throated Flycatchers Nesting In My Backyard

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Ash-Throated Flycatcher photo by Larry Jordan

This beautiful peaceful bird is another one of my favorite nesting birds in my backyard. I think I love it mostly because of it’s soft, melodious call and the ballet style movements of flight that the Ash-Throated Flycatcher demonstrates. When you see this bird flying, it looks so easy and effortless it makes you feel as if you could fly too. As you watch them catch insects in midair with graceful ease you can’t help but be impressed.  Listen to the Ash-throated Flycatcher by double clicking on the arrow below.

The Ash-throated Flycatcher breeds in desert scrub, riparian forest, brushy pastures and open woodlands from the western United States to central Mexico. It is a short-distance migrant, retreating from most of the U.S. spending the winter from northern Mexico and southern California and Arizona south to Honduras. Their nest is built in a tree cavity or similar natural hole or a man made birdhouse. They will readily nest in bluebird houses but I give them a bit more space with a 6″ x 6″ floor. To learn how to build them a birdhouse get my free ebook Definitive Guide to Building Your Own Birdhouses or go to my Nest Box Plans page.

These beautiful birds are 7 – 8 inches long and weigh in at about 3/4 to 1 1/4 ounces. They are a medium sized bird with a short bushy crest and a long rusty tail. The upperparts are olive brown with a darker head. The breast is grey and the belly is a beautiful, very pale yellow. Their brown tail feathers and wings have rufous outer webs and they have two dull wing bars.

Ash-throated Flycatchers are primarily insectivores. They will capture insects off vegetation, on the ground and as you will see, in midair with the greatest of ease. They will also eat berries in winter if insects are unavailable.

The Ash-throated Flycatcher is one of my favorite birds to watch in my own backyard. If you can get a pair to breed in your backyard or on your property you will love them too. They will come back year after year to breed and give you many, many hours of enjoyment.

{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Kim May 5, 2010 at 3:35 pm

We found a nest with 5 eggs in the seat of our 4-wheeler. I think it is the nest of an ash-throated flycatcher. We had to move the 4-wheeler. What should we do with the eggs and the nest? I am sick at the thought of the eggs not hatching.


Larry May 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

Hi Kim, If you can, place the nest in a cardboard box and try to simulate how the nest was placed in your 4-wheeler. Place it as close to the location it was in before and hope the birds come back to continue nesting behavior.

Reply March 31, 2011 at 4:08 pm

I’ve never had much luck getting Myiarchus to use nest boxes, but man what a treat for those who do! I’m curious if Kim’s birds ever came back to tend that clutch?


Dianne April 10, 2012 at 6:02 am

I found a nesting site in the middle of our gravel driveway. There are two eggs so far (one laid yesterday, additional one overnite.) They are identical to an Ash Throated Flycatcher. We live in the west central part of Mississippi (Cleveland) in the country. I’m new to the bird watching scene and am very interested and puzzled regarding the nesting site being in the middle of our gravel drive. Your comments will be appreciated. I’m am having a grand time and can’t understand why I haven’t been doing this all my life!!!!!


Lois Kimberly June 28, 2012 at 10:58 am

What do the eggs look like of the “Ash Throated Flycatcher”? I have a nest in a house plant on our patio with eggs of a “white with two little bands around the middle of the egg – these are kinda “pinkish” in color. Can you help me with this? I have seen the “mama” bird but don’t know for sure “if” she is an “Ash Throated Flycatcher”. Nothing like “nature” – and God’s creation for us to enjoy!!! Thank you for any help you can give me.


Larry June 28, 2012 at 10:34 pm

@Lois you can see the Ash-throated Flycatcher’s eggs on my Egg & Nest Identification page or on < href="">this other post on nesting flycatchers.

I don’t know where you live but it sounds like you have a Carolina Wren nest there. Check out my Egg & Nest Identification page for several photos of Carolina Wren nests.


Janet July 15, 2012 at 9:54 am

We live in the Cape Henlopen area of Delaware, yesterday we noticed a bird we have not seen before hanging around our apple tree. Turns out it is a Ash-throated Flycatcher and it seems to have a nest in the hollow branch of the tree. We have been watching the pair bring insects into the top of the branch and exiting out the bottom space of the branch. It has been so enjoyable to watch and they are very protective of the nest chasing the other birds away from the tree. Hoping to see the babies soon.


Larry July 24, 2012 at 3:50 pm

@Janet you probably have the Great-crested Flycatcher, the Eastern equivalent of the Ash-throated Flycatcher. They look almost identical. They are fun to watch. When the nestlings start poking their heads out, they are about ready to fledge.


Lexi May 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

How long does it take for them to hatch


Larry May 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

@Lexi the female incubates them for 15 days and they leave the nest at 16 to 17 days old.


Kate Convissor May 29, 2014 at 2:18 pm

I have a phoebe nesting above my front door in north-central Michigan. I’m worried about disturbing the hen each time I go in and out. (I only have one door.) Consequently, I’ve become a bit of a prisoner in my home.

Suggestions? Reassurance?



Larry June 4, 2014 at 8:51 pm

@Kate there should be no problem with you going in and out of your only door, after all, the phoebe knew you were going in and out of that door when she built the nest there. Even if she flies off for a short time, it won’t affect her nesting. Rest assured 😉


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