Juvenile Vermilion Flycatcher
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I was driving through farm country this morning when I caught glimpse of a small bird sitting on a barbed wire fence. I stopped to watch, and was immediately charmed by its antics. The bird was making short flights out over a field of millet, bobbing and dipping in the air and performing other acrobatic maneuvers. Invariably, it would return to its perch, usually to the same location, after each short flight. I looked more closely at it and realized that it was a Vermilion Flycatcher, a juvenile male.
A few days ago I published some images of an adult male Vermilion, resplendent in scarlet. Juvenile males lack the adults’ scarlet feathers, but as they molt and grow new feathers, patches of color gradually appear. That was the case with this little bird: it had grown in some deep orange colored feathers to replace its fledgling brown and white plumage and was on its way to attaining adult plumage.
Juvenile male Vermilions and females sort of resemble each other in that each has a reddish abdomen, but this bird had a much deeper red abdomen than a female has and was growing red feathers on his head and face, suggesting to me that it is a juvenile male.
The little bird continued to make its sorties as I photographed it, ignoring me. I was surprised, at first, to see this bird so out in the open. I associate Vermilion Flycatchers with trees and this was truly open country. But, then, I realized that there was a row of pecan trees standing behind me and it occurred to me that the bird probably used the pecans as a hunting perch along with the fence.
I’ve mentioned on occasion that Vermilion Flycatchers are among my favorite species to photograph. I’ve photographed juvenile males on other occasions but never so exposed nor so cooperative as this little fellow was.
Images made with a Canon 5Diii, 100-400 mm ISII zoom lens+1.4x telextender, aperture priority setting, ISO 640, f8. The first and third images shot at 1/1000, the second at 1/1250.