Recent theory suggests that attraction to conspecifics during habitat selection can be one potential, yet untested, mechanism for animal sensitivity to habitat fragmentation. The least flycatcher Empidonax minimus, a highly territorial migratory bird, has previously been shown to be attracted to conspecifics and sensitive to patch size by avoiding small patches of riparian forest in Montana, USA. I used a large-scale field experiment in this region to test the conspecific attraction hypothesis for explaining sensitivity to patch size, and I supplemented this experiment by estimating whether vegetation structure, nest predation, or nest parasitism rates could better explain patterns of sensitivity to patch size. Vegetation structure did not vary consistently with patch size, based on a random sample of patches across 150 km of the Madison and Missouri Rivers, Montana. Nest predation and parasitism rates by brown-headed cowbirds Molothrus ater also did not vary with patch size during the experiment. However, when conspecific cues were simulated across a gradient of patch sizes, flycatchers settled in all patches – and their sensitivity to patch size vanished – providing strong support for the conspecific attraction hypothesis. These results provide the first experimental evidence that attraction to conspecifics can indeed help explain area sensitivity in nature and highlight how understanding the role of animal behavior in heterogeneous landscapes can aid in interpreting pressing conservation issues.