The Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) is usually found near the US – Mexican border but we were fortunate this year to find an adult male in northern California! Click on photos for full sized images.
I had reserved the photo blind at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge last weekend and figured I would stop by the Maxwell Cemetery on the way back home to try to find the male Vermilion Flycatcher that had been hanging out there for more than the past week, hoping he was still there.
I was not disappointed!
With his fiery red head and flaming vermilion breast he was not hard to find.
The female of the species is beautiful in her own right but only the male had been seen here. Photo of female (below) by Gary L. Clark, courtesy Wikipedia Commons.
Several enthusiastic birders observed and photographed this bird as he flew up to the tops of the cedars in the cemetery where he exhibited typical aerial hawking maneuvers, using short swooping flights from a perch and returning to the same perch.
Vermilion Flycatchers also forage on the ground, pursuing prey from a perch, bringing the prey back to the perch and beating larger prey before consuming them. I captured a few shots of this male beating a cricket against a branch before eating it.
After consuming the cricket, he flew out to the perimeter of the tree and began to preen. That is when most of these photos were taken.
It’s always fun to add another life bird to your list, especially when you get to share the experience with several birding friends.
We all birded the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge after leaving the cemetery. There we passed on our vermilion experience with a group of novice young birders being led by a school group from Sacramento. They were very excited about spotting this guy on the way back to Sacramento. How could you not be thrilled to see pyrocephalus, the bird with the fiery head!