Watershed, Winter 2001
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Southwestern Willow Flycatcher Fledges
-- First in Decades
This article is based in part on information supplied by Jim Greaves, wildlife biologist

In an event which warmed the hearts of us all, the first confirmed successful breeding of a southwestern willow flycatcher (empidomax trailii extimus) along the Santa Clara River in several decades took place in August 2000. The flycatcher is listed as a federal and state endangered species. Wildlife biologist Jim Greaves witnessed the fledging process in the riparian zone within the grounds of the Fillmore Fish hatchery. Intimate details of the fledging are available at http://silcom.com/~greaves/. Th southwestern willow flycatcher is one of four species of willow flycatcher commonly recognized in North America. The breeding range of the species includes California, Arizona, New Mexico, and the extreme southern portions of Nevada and Utah. It winters in Mexico, Central America, and South America. The decline in flycatcher populations has resulted from the loss or degradation of riparian habitats along rivers, streams, or other wetlands where stands of willows, mule fat, arrow weed or other riparian plants are present. In southern California, only 3% of pre-settlement riparan woodlands still remain. Such losses further emphasize the need to oppose projects such as Newhall Ranch which can cause significant loss and degradation to some of the best riparian zones remaining along the Santa Clara River. A recovery team for the southwestern willow flycatcher has been set up under leadership of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The goal of this team, which meets periodically, is to increase flycatcher populations to the point where it can be removed from the endangered species list. Friends of the Santa Clara River is a member of the team.


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