The winter ecology and behavior of Alder Flycatchers (Empidonax alnorum) were studied along the Manu, a white-water meander river in Manu National Park, Madre de Dios, Peru during October and November, 1993 to 1997. The birds occupied territories in primary-succession habitats on growing point bars. They were most common in mixed stands of Tessaria integrifolia (Asteraceae) and Gynerium sagittatum (Gramineaceae) interspersed with bare sand areas. The uneven height of the Tessaria canopy, which resulted in openings in the vegetation large enough for the birds to flycatch, was an important habitat feature. Birds obtained insects, which formed about 96% of the diet, by aerial hawking (91%), perch gleaning (6%), and hover gleaning (3%). They also fed on fruit. Territory sizes ranged from 0.04 to 0.25 ha. Of nine territories that we observed closely, six were occupied by two birds each, two by one bird each, and one by three birds. Every territory had one dominant individual who was primarily responsible for territory defense; the other birds were associates. Vocalizations given included the fee-bee-o song, a two-syllable song, and the pit note, which are also given on the breeding grounds. A series of pits given increasingly rapidly signaled a territorial interaction. In aggressive encounters, the birds (1) interacted vocally, remaining on their territories and counter calling or exchanging agitated calls; (2) moved toward a common territorial boundary and engaged in a vocal duel; or (3) the dominant chased intruders out of the territory. Chases were most common when a wave of new birds entered the area. Dominant birds, which sang the full song, were probably adult males. Immature males do not sing a full song, and females are not known to sing in nature. Associate individuals were likely females or young males.
Additional publication details
Winter behavior and ecology of the Alder Flycatcher (Empidonax alnorum) in Peru