The southwestern willow flycatcher: one more reason why massive, industrial-scale energy projects targeting the High Mojave Desert must be stopped—NOW.

Image: David Powell  Hawks Aloft, Inc.

Endangered Species of the Week: Southwestern Willow Flycatcher

One in a series of articles spotlighting endangered, threatened, and species of special concern that would be endangered by industrial-scale energy projects in the High Mojave Desert.

As you would imagine, the southwestern willow flycatcher’s main behavior is catching flies. With a wingspan of around eight inches, these mottled tan little ones can hover for their prey, and will build a new nest right on top of a brown-headed cowbird’s eggs if those birds try to move in. They exhibit quite aggressive tail-flicks and crest-raises if a competing flycatcher tries to replace them on their perch.

But they’re no match for a 500-foot wind turbine.

Identified by its song—a sneezy “fitz-bew”—this bird will winter in High Desert shrubs and summer elsewhere in North America. It’s found in places throughout the adjacent San Bernardino National Forest. But its natural habitat nationwide has been greatly reduced, landing it on the Federal Endangered Species list as of 1995. Big wind turbines would further threaten its habitat, and their giant spinning rotors would endanger willow flycatchers that migrate through the project area on the way to breeding sites in the Southern Sierra.

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