Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

from the September 2, 2012 Issued from the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA
A BANDED VERMILION FLYCATCHER

Each day a Vermilion Flycatcher, PYROCEPHALUS RUBINUS, patrols around the cabin, often perching on the fence outside my window. That's him below:

Vermilion Flycatcher, PYROCEPHALUS RUBINUS, male

The picture's gauziness is caused by photographing through the window's screen wire. Notice that at least one leg wears a metal band. There's a birdbander someplace who'd like to know where this fellow is.

I've seen Vermilion Flycatchers all through Mexico's arid zones, here and there in Central America and in much of South America, but I was surprised to see one outside my window this far north. In fact, though during the Northern summer they do extend their range a little farther north into the US, here they are permanent residents. Occupying such an extensive area, the species is fragmenting into subspecies -- at least 13 subspecies being recognized.

Vermilion Flycatchers are real flycatchers, belonging to the Tyrant Flycatcher Family, along with kingbirds, pewees and a host of other typically mousy-colored species, so this bird's scarlet plumage is surprising.

There's a female Vermilion Flycatcher here, too, lacking the male's redness, but I'm not sure they consider themselves a pair. They both love the area's wire fences, where they perch until they spot something in the grass below them, swoop down onto their prey, then normally fly to another fence or to a tree's dead, leafless snag. I don't hear them calling. They seem to know that at this time of year their only job is to eat and stay alive.


Special note dated October 28, 2012, from the valley of the Dry Frio River in northern Uvalde County, southwestern Texas, on the southern border of the Edwards Plateau, USA
A FEMALE VERMILION FLYCATCHER

The "stawberry wash" along the flanks help distinguish the female from other mousy-colored flycatchers. This one was on a fencepost near the cabin.

female Vermilion Flycatcher