Male Vermilion Flycatcher, A Renewed Acquaintance
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I realized the other day that it had been months since I’d posted images of a Vermilion Flycatcher. These extraordinarily brilliant little birds are among my favorite avian subjects but, for one reason or another, I hadn’t photographed one in a long time. I decided to remedy that.
These little birds are actually fairly easy to photograph. It helps greatly to know where they live and their habits. They are a southwestern species but not actually desert dwellers. Vermilion Flycatchers like trees and water. In Tucson, their preferences narrow down their possible habitats to public parks and a few other locations (cemeteries among them) with mature trees and water. I know of three public parks in Tucson that have resident populations of these birds. These little flycatchers are quite territorial and are creatures of habit as well. One will stake out a territory consisting of trees situated on few acres in a park, preferably near a stream or a pond. The flycatcher will spend its day flitting from tree to tree, where it will perch on favorite branches. From those branches it mounts aerial forays as it chases and captures insects in flight.
Armed with this information I visited a park in which I’d seen a Vermilion Flycatcher last spring. I picked a likely looking tree, found good vantage point about 10 yards away, and waited. From time to time I’d see flashes of brilliant red among the branches of other trees in the park. I decided that I wouldn’t pursue the bird but that I’d let it come to me. Sure enough, after about 20 minutes, my patience was rewarded. A male flycatcher — possibly the same bird that I’d seen back in the spring — landed on a nearby branch and posed quite cooperatively.
I was able to get some nice shots. It helped that I deduced in advance where this bird was likely to perch, because I was able to set up under very favorable lighting conditions.
After perching for a minute or so the flycatcher made a foray after an insect. It returned to the same tree and landed on a second branch that afforded me even better lighting.
I’ll definitely photograph this bird again some time in weeks or months to come.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 f4-5.6 ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, hand held, aperture priority setting, ISO 640. The first image shot at f8 @ 1/1600, the second and third at f8 @ 1/2000.