Borrego Sun - Since 1949

Nature Watch: "Vermilion flycatcher"


Last updated 2/15/2024 at 10:19am

Vermilion flycatcher

When you spot one of these occasional visitors to Borrego Springs, you will quickly understand why some bird lovers refer to them as "The Christmas Bird."

The vermilion flycatcher, with males sporting brilliant red and jet black feathers edged in white, is one of the most colorful of North American flycatchers and should begin showing up as migrants arrive here to enjoy mild winter weather.

Both male and female also have a low, feathered crown.

While retired park ranger and expert birder Bob Theriault has sighted some of these flycatchers in summer months, most sightings here have been recorded between October and April.

Because of their striking red coloration, you won't have any problem identifying this little bird.

While this bird is a common species to the desert Southwest, Borrego Springs is at the northwestern edge of their range.

The vermilion flycatcher is a tiny bird, measuring only about five inches in length. Adult females are far less colorful, with head, back and wings a grayish brown. The breast is white fading to a pale red on the lower belly.

These active flycatchers don't spend much time on the ground, preferring to perch and pounce on prey that includes butterflies, grasshoppers, beetles, termites and spiders.

Some of the most common areas where these colorful visitors have been seen include Tamarisk Grove Campground, Big Spring, the grounds of Borrego Springs Resort, Coyote Canyon, Old Springs Road, Borrego Palm Canyon, Club Circle and the Roadrunner Club.

During the 2022 annual Christmas Bird Count, adult male and female vermilion flycatchers were observed on Henderson Canyon Road.

While rare, there have been recorded sightings of nesting pairs at De Anza Country Club.

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