The Vermilion Flycatcher
Just when you think you've seen them all..... here comes another gorgeous bird! It's the Vermilion Flycatcher, and it may be right in your backyard today! This species is unusual among flycatchers in that the sexes are differently colored. The bright colors of the male have earned it the Mexican name brasita de fuego, "little coal of fire." The male has a brilliant scarlet crown and underparts, with dark brown back, wings, and tail; female is similar to male above but white below with dark streaks, flycatcher and a belly that varies from pink to yellow to white. The courtship display of the Vermilion Flycatcher is incredible, and is often called a "butterfly" flight as the male flies high in the sky, then calls as it flutters back earthward on rapidly beating wings. And, speaking of butterflies...the male is known for bringing a butterfly to entice the female.
Vermilion Flycatchers are not common, but have been present in Washington County since the late 1900's. They hunt food in the highest canopy which keeps them well concealed. When vegetated areas are sparse, they will descend to the ground for insects. When he finds a productive territory, the Vermilion Flycatcher defends his territory with a prominent aerial display. In southern Texas, it is conspicuous and tame, often nesting near houses and farmyards. Maybe some day we that will happen here in southern Utah.
Brenda Rusnell is the artist of the Vermilion Flycatcher. Thank you, Brenda. You always do such a great job. Some of Brenda's art is on display at the Zions Staircase Gallery, January and February 2008, along with many other great bird artists who are exhibiting to celebrate the Fifth Annual Winter Bird Festival. Over eighty wonderful paintings to look at on both north and south staircases of Zions Bank on the Boulevard. Be sure to vote for your favorite picture.
For more information about birds, and the Winter Bird Festival, call Marilyn Davis, 435 673-0996.
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