LIFER: the Vermilion Flycatcher

2018 Vermilion Flycatcher 4_350x250
Showing off its pretty feathers.

And yes, we can include another new species on the growing birdlist of Curacao!

Standing in the field early Tuesday morning (March 6 2018), for the Curacao Bird Survey, Curacao Backyard Birding noticed a small but very unusually coloured bird. The small, about 13 cm long bird, was bright red with a very distinctive black mask (like Zorro ), black wings and had distinctive flycatcher behaviour. We new it when we saw it, this was the Vermilion flycatcher. Back at home it was confirmed, we just saw the first Vermilion flycatcher for the island of Curacao. A male Vermilion flycatcher in full breeding plumage. And boy, did it it show its pretty feathers

2018 Vermilion Flycatcher 5_350
Photographed in IBA & RAMSAR area Malpais.

This bird is so rare on the islands that the only other record we have is from the 1950’s where an immature male was spotted on the island of Aruba. Afterwards it was never spotted again on the islands of Aruba, Bonaire or Curacao. What you see is an adult male, in pristine feathers recently moulted, in its bright red breeding plumage. Females are a dull brown with pinkish belly.

Vermilion flycatchers are insect eaters, and will eat flies, butterflies, bees, grasshoppers, beetles and other insects. If the prey is large they will slam it against a trunk of a tree and than swallow it hole.

2018 Vermilion Flycatcher 2_350Vermilion flycatchers live in North, Central and South America. Seeing its colouring this one presumably came over from the main land of Venezuela, It is unclear why it decided to fly over. And maybe they have been around every year during spring migration, but we just never encountered them. One thing is clear, it was enjoying itself with a lot insects last Tuesday!

 


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