Beak of the Week – Vermilion Flycatcher

Vermilion Flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus)

Family: Tyrannidae

By Jon Piasecki, Houston Audubon Conservation Technician

Vermilion Flycatchers are a beautiful species that stand out in their natural habitat. Adult males have a remarkably vibrant red crown, throat, and belly with black wings, back and eye patch. Females tend to be brown/gray with a white breast and red-orange sides and belly. They occupy open, grassy habitats including farms, prairies, and deserts. They are predominantly found along the southern edge of the United States, Mexico, and Central and South America.

Vermilion Flycatchers are often seen perched on exposed tree and shrub branches, waiting for prey to fly by. Similarly to other flycatchers, this species catches its prey in mid-air typically flying out from its perch, catching an insect, and bringing it back to the perch in one swift motion. When capturing large prey like grasshoppers or even butterflies, Vermilion Flycatchers may strike the insect on the perch to further weaken it before eating. This species is also known to eat bees, crickets, and beetles.

Towards the end of the winter season, males may begin to perform mating displays. This involves flying high above surrounding vegetation, gliding back and forth, and singing a flight song. If a female becomes interested in the male, it will then join it flying in the sky and begin to look for possible nest locations. Nests are often built in trees near streams or other small waterways and are often covered with lichen for increased camouflage. Vermilion Flycatchers usually have 2 broods of 2-4 eggs. The female incubates the eggs and both parents help in feeding the chicks. After the breeding season, Vermilion Flycatchers disperse to wintering grounds usually on their own.

A handful of Vermilion Flycatchers have been seen throughout the Upper Texas coast this winter in places such as High Island, Anahuac and even the outer edges of Houston. Be sure to keep an eye out for these magnificent flycatchers!

 Visit our Bird Gallery to read about other Texas birds! 

One thought on “Beak of the Week – Vermilion Flycatcher

  1. The Vermillion Flycatcher is one of my favorite birds. I have named him MR. WONDERFUL because he is such a beautiful bird and a joy to watch. Sitting on a limb or flying he is a great pleasure to see. There are many pretty birds but MR. WONDERFUL is special to me.


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