Photo: Rick & Nora Bowers/Vireo

Vermilion Flycatcher

Pyrocephalus rubinus

Most flycatchers are drab, but the male Vermilion Flycatcher is a brilliant exception. It is usually seen perched fairly low in open areas near water, dipping the tail gently like a phoebe. As if the male's bright colors were not advertisement enough, he also displays by puffing up his feathers and fluttering high in the air while singing repeatedly. Fairly common in parts of the southwest, the Vermilion Flycatcher is also widespread in Central and South America.
Conservation status Surveys have shown recent declines in the Texas breeding population.
Family Tyrant Flycatchers
Habitat Streamsides in arid country, savanna, ranches. In some areas may be found in dry grassland or desert with scattered trees, but much more frequent near water: short trees along streams, edges of ponds. Winter strays in the southeast are in open clearings or brushy areas near water.
Most flycatchers are drab, but the male Vermilion Flycatcher is a brilliant exception. It is usually seen perched fairly low in open areas near water, dipping the tail gently like a phoebe. As if the male's bright colors were not advertisement enough, he also displays by puffing up his feathers and fluttering high in the air while singing repeatedly. Fairly common in parts of the southwest, the Vermilion Flycatcher is also widespread in Central and South America.
Photo Gallery
  • adult male
  • adult female
  • immature female
  • immature male (1st year)
  • adult male
  • adult female
Feeding Behavior

Forages by watching for prey from exposed perch, then sallying out to capture flying insects in the air, also by hovering and dropping to the ground for small insects. If beehives are placed close to favored foraging sites, sometimes consumes many bees. Indigestible parts of insects are coughed up later as pellets.


Eggs

Usually 3, sometimes 2-4. Whitish with bold spots of brown, olive, lavender. Incubation is by the female (the male may rarely take a turn on the nest), 14-15 days. Young: Both parents feed the young. Young fledge in 14-16 days, and male may tend the full-grown young while female begins second nest. 2 broods per year.


Young

Both parents feed the young. Young fledge in 14-16 days, and male may tend the full-grown young while female begins second nest. 2 broods per year.

Diet

Insects. Diet not known in detail, but apparently feeds entirely on insects, including beetles, flies, wasps, grasshoppers, and many others.


Nesting

Male performs flight-song display above territory: fluffing out body and head feathers and rising high in air (up to 50' or more) in peculiar fluttering flight while singing rapidly and repeatedly, then swooping back down to perch. Nest: Female builds nest in horizontal fork of tree, usually 6-20' above ground, rarely up to 50' or more. Nest is a compact cup of twigs, grass, weeds, often held together with spider webs and decorated with lichens. Nest lining is of finer plant materials, hair, and feathers.

Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds

Migration

Found all year in most parts of range, but some withdraw in winter from northern and higher-elevation areas. Every year, a few spend the winter well to the east along the Gulf Coast, and west to the California coast.

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Migration

Found all year in most parts of range, but some withdraw in winter from northern and higher-elevation areas. Every year, a few spend the winter well to the east along the Gulf Coast, and west to the California coast.

  • All Seasons - Common
  • All Seasons - Uncommon
  • Breeding - Common
  • Breeding - Uncommon
  • Winter - Common
  • Winter - Uncommon
  • Migration - Common
  • Migration - Uncommon
Songs and Calls
Call is peet-peet or peet-a-weet. Also has a soft, tinkling flight song.
Audio © Lang Elliott, Bob McGuire, Kevin Colver, Martyn Stewart and others.
Learn more about this sound collection.

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