Olive-sided Flycatcher

Contopus cooperi

Infrequently Seen

Spring: Olive-sided Flycatchers are uncommon visitors to the Washington metro area, and they are seen at Monticello Park only about one out of every three years.

Fall: An Olive-sided Flycatcher has never been recorded at Monticello during the fall.

Where to See Them in the Park

On the rare occasions when an Olive-sided Flycatcher is at Monticello, it usually is on a bare branch at the top of a tall dead tree. There is no best time to look for one.

Physical Description

Olive-sided Flycatcher Composite
Adult - Photo by William Higgins

The breast of the Olive-sided Flycatcher has a broad central lemony line, and the olive sides are long vertical streaks which border the central line on each side. The sexes are similar.

Olive-sided Flycatcher Composite
Adult Composite - Photo by Ashley Bradford

In May, 2017, an Olive-sided Flycatcher visited Monticello. This composite photo shows three images of the underparts.

Olive-sided Flycatcher Composite
Adult Composite - Photo by Ashley Bradford

The rump has white tufts on each side. A birder who used to visit the park referred to these tufts as "white fluffies".

Olive-sided Flycatcher Composite
Composite of Adult with Cicada - Photo by Ashley Bradford

Olive-sided Flycatchers hawk insects from high open perches. The 2017 bird at Monticello caught a cicada and swallowed it, wings and all.

Olive-sided Flycatcher
Adult Wing and Tail Feathers - Photo by Ashley Bradford

This photo shows the wing and tail feathers while it was hawking insects.


The song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher has one of the best-known bird mnemonics — a loud, emphatic QUICK, THREE BEERS!.

Hear the song of the Olive-sided Flycatcher.


Mnemonics can help people to remember birdsong, because many people more easily remember words than sounds. Sometimes, a species can have more than one mnemonic for the same song, because different people can hear the same sounds differently.

Origin of Names

Common Names: Olive-sided from their plumage. Flycatcher because they catch flies.
Genus Name: Contopus means short foot, from their small feet.
Species Name: Cooperi after the American naturalist William Cooper.

Olive-sided Flycatcher video footage

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