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Vermilion Flycatcher - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 18:27, 16 November 2023 by Sbarnhardt (talk | contribs) (Add Subspecies ''saturatus" image by njlarsen to Habitat)
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P. r. rubinus, male
Photo © by Imageinnovator
Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, September 2016
Pyrocephalus rubinus

Includes: Scarlet Flycatcher
Name often mis-spelled "Vermillion" due to confusion with the number million.


P. r. rubinus, female
Photo © by Imageinnovator
Poconê, Mato Grosso, Brazil, August 2015

Length 13–14 cm (5½ in), weight 11–14 g
Strongly sexually dimorphic. Adult male is unmistakable.
Male: Bright vermilion-red underparts and cap, dark brownish wings, tail and mask.
Female: Dull brownish or greyish upperparts, whitish underparts streaked dark brown. In some subspecies they have pinkish or yellow flanks and/or crissum.
First year: Resembles female but where female has reddish-pink lower belly and crissum, the first year birds often have a more yellowish or salmon wash.
Second year: Males start to acquire patches of red adult plumage, typically on the forehead first.

P. r. mexicanus, juvenile
Photo © by bobsofpa
Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA, April 2016

Both sexes of subspecies P. r. obscurus (from coastal Peru) also occur in a uniformly dark brown morph.

Similar Species

P. r. mexicanus, male
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Chambers County, Texas, USA, October 2017

Females and immatures are potentially confusing, but can be separated from most other superficially similar species (e.g. Bran-colored Flycatcher) by the faint or complete lack of wing-bars. From Say's Phoebe told by its smaller size, shorter tail, whitish supercilium, and streaked breast.


P. r. flammeus, female
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Merced, California, USA, 17 February 2021

It is widespread and generally common in most of central and northern South America, Central America, Mexico and southwestern United States.

Typically resident, but a large proportion of the population from the southernmost part of its range migrate north to spend the Austral winter in central South America. Additionally, most of the population in USA migrate south to spend the winter in Central America.


P. r. obscurus, second-year male, light morph
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Olivar Park, San Isidro, Lima, Peru, August 2017

This species formerly included Brujo Flycatcher. Recently split by IOC into two species, one in southeastern South America and the other in northern and western South America, Central America, and southern North America[1] following genetic studies[2]; these are listed here as subspecies groups.


P. r. obscurus, dark morph male
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Parque El Olivar in San Isidro, Lima, Peru, April 2017

Around 11 subspecies are generally recognised[3]:

Rubinus Group (Pyrocephalus rubinus sensu stricto; Scarlet Flycatcher)

Obscurus Group (Pyrocephalus r. obscurus; Vermilion Flycatcher)

  • P. r. flammeus: arid southwestern US to Baja California and north-western Mexico (Nayarit)
  • P. r. mexicanus: arid southwestern Texas to Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz
  • P. r. blatteus: southeastern Mexico (southern Veracruz) to Guatemala and Honduras
  • P. r. pinicola: lowland pine savanna of northeastern Nicaragua
  • P. r. saturatus: northeastern Colombia to northern Venezuela, Guyana and northern Brazil
  • P. r. piurae: Colombia (west of Eastern Andes) to westelrn Ecuador and northwestern Peru
  • P. r. ardens: northern Peru (Cajamarca, Amazonas and extreme eastern Piura)
  • P. r. obscurus: western Peru (Lima)
  • P. r. cocachacrae: southwestern Peru (Ica to Tacna) and adjacent northern Chile
  • P. r. major: southeastern Peru (Cuzco and Puno; doubtfully distinct from P. r. cocachacrae)


Subspecies saturatus
Photo © by NJ Larsen
El Camarones, Guajira, Colombia, 29 August 2023

Occurs in a wide range of open or semi-open habitats, including savanna, forest-edge, woodland, scrub, areas with scattered trees. Also in rural zones and city parks or gardens.


Photo © by mtbirder
Tuscon, Arizona


Feeds on small insects and spiders. It perches on an open branch, waiting for the prey. After locating it, the flycatcher pursues and captures it in flight.


The courtship display of the male involves singing, raising its crest, fluffing its breast-feathers and, sometimes, delivering a butterfly or showy insect to the female to initiate copulation.

Breeding is seasonal, but timing varies depending on region. The nest is an open cup loosely constructed by moss, grass, twigs and spiderwebs. The 2-3 eggs are incubated entirely by the female, but both sexes feed the chicks.


  1. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2022. IOC World Bird List (v 12.1 DRAFT). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.12.1. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  2. Carmi, O., Witt, C. C., Jaramillo, A., & Dumbacher, J. P. (2016). Phylogeography of the Vermilion Flycatcher species complex: Multiple speciation events, shifts in migratory behavior, and an apparent extinction of a Galápagos-endemic bird species. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 102: 152-173 (abstract).
  3. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.