Wild Birds

Vermilion Flycatchers

The Vermilion Flycatchers (Pyrocephalus rubinus) are found in the southwestern United States, Central America, and northern and central South America, and southwards to central Argentina.

Other Names:

Spanish: Mosquero cardenal; French: Moucherolle vermillon


The Vermillion Flycatchers average 5.1–5.5 in (13–14 cm) in length and weight between 0.4–0.5 oz (11–14 g).

The male’s under plumage is bright red in color, the upper plumage is dark brown.

Females have a peach-colored abdomen with a dark grey upperside, and resemble the Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe).

*It has been noted by aviculturists, that the males tend to lose their bright colors when taken from the wild and kept in captive situations. For this reason, they aren not commonly kept.

Vermillion Flycatcher

Diet / Feeding

The Vermilion Flycatchers mostly feeds on insects, such as flies, butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, termites, bees and spiders.

Flying insects are typically caught mid-air or they make drop down to the ground to catch their prey.

Breeding / Nesting

The breeding season usually takes place from March through July in the northern range, and from October and January in the far South.

To attract a female, the male will perform a spectacular display flight. They fluff out their feathers and raise their crest. They flies up, flapping furiously, to about 100 feet (30 meters) or even high in the air, hovering for a few moments and then dropping back down to a perch, while repeating his musical song.

The nest is usually placed on the horizontal fork of a tree about 2.5 to 6 meters (8-20 ft) off the ground. The shallow cup nest is made out of twigs, grass, small roots, lichens and stems lined with animal hair and down; and it is held together with spiderwebs.

The female lays 2 to 4 white or creamy eggs with bold dark blotches and small lighter spots. She alone incubates them for 13 to 15 days. During this time, the male will often bring food to the female as she is sitting on the eggs. The chicks hatch helpless with sparse whitish down and blackish skin (back). Both the male and female vermilion flycatcher raise the young, which fledge when they are about 13 to 18 days old. Once they have left the nest, the pair may raise a second brood.

Vermilion flycatcher nests are sometimes parasitized by cowbirds, who will lay their own eggs in their nest for them to raise as their own (brood parasites).

Vermillion Flycatcher female on nest
Sparkling Violetear (hummingbird) and Vermillion Flycatcher
Vermillion Flycatcher male

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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