The Southwestern Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii extimus) has been the subject of substantial research, monitoring, and management activity since it was listed as an endangered species in 1995. When proposed for listing in 1993, relatively little was known about the flycatcher's natural history, and there were only 30 known breeding sites supporting an estimated 111 territories rangewide (Sogge and others, 2003a). Since that time, thousands of presence/absences surveys have been conducted throughout the historical range of the flycatcher, and many studies of its natural history and ecology have been completed. As a result, the ecology of the flycatcher is much better understood than it was just over a decade ago. In addition, we have learned that the current status of the flycatcher is better than originally thought: as of 2007, the population was estimated at approximately 1,300 territories distributed among approximately 280 breeding sites (Durst and others, 2008a).
Concern about the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher on a rangewide scale was brought to focus by Unitt (1987), who described declines in flycatcher abundance and distribution throughout the Southwest. E. t. extimus populations declined during the 20th century, primarily because of habitat loss and modification from activities, such as dam construction and operation, groundwater pumping, water diversions, and flood control. In 1991, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) designated the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher as a candidate category 1 species (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1991). In July 1993, the USFWS proposed to list E. t. extimus as an endangered species and to designate critical habitat under the Act (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1993). A final rule listing E. t. extimus as endangered was published in February 1995 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1995); critical habitat was designated in 1997 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1997). The USFWS Service released a Recovery Plan for the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher in 2002 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2002), and re-designated critical habitat in 2005 (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 2005).