I was so excited to see a a male vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinis) at Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge in Arizona. Even though this small passerine was not a cooperative model, I still want to share the less than optimal photographs.
Vermilion flycatchers are strongly polytypic, meaning that the sexes look different. The males are stunning. The crown, lower face and underparts are a brilliant scarlet in contrast with the blackish brown upper parts, nape and mask through the eye. The short bill and legs are black. There are 12 subspecies of vermilion flycatchers found in the desert southwest of the United States, Mexico and much of South America.
Male vermilion flycatchers spend as much as 90% of their day perched on branches in the open woodlands, desert and scrublands, almost always near water, that comprise their habitat. From these perches the vermilion flycatcher watches for insects, which comprise most of its diet. Usually the insects are taken midair after a short flight from the perch. To initiate copulation a male vermilion flycatcher presents a butterfly or other showy insect to the female.
What a thrilling find!