Fledgling Vermilion Flycatcher
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Back in April I posted about a pair of Vermilion Flycatchers, male and female, at Fort Lowell Park near our Tucson home. The little flycatchers appeared to be in love. I’ve gone back to the park periodically, hoping to find a nest or fledgling birds. I had no luck until a couple of weeks ago.
I was in the park when I spotted the male, sitting on one of his favorite perches.
The male was, as usual, patrolling his territory. He’d sit on his perch for a minute or so, fly off in search of insects to capture, and then either return or land on another perch a few yards away. I concentrated on photographing him.
But, after a couple of minutes, I noticed a second bird sitting on a chain link fence a few yards away. The second bird seemed to be shadowing the adult male, following it around. My first reaction was that this was a female flycatcher, probably the male’s mate. But, there was something unusual about this second bird’s behavior. It wasn’t a very sophisticated flier. It kept trying to squeeze through the openings in the fence, which were just a hair too small to allow the second bird passage. After a minute or so of this, it gave up and flew to a different perch, again just a few yards from where the male was perching. I took the opportunity to photograph it.
I believe this to be a fledgling bird, probably one of the male’s offspring. Female Vermilion Flycatchers lack the males’ brilliant red plumage, but they usually have pale yellow or orange breasts and abdomens. This little flycatcher is lacking that plumage, suggesting that it is sporting a fledgling’s feathers.
I also suspect that it is a fledgling bird from its behavior. Its clumsy attempts to squeeze through fence openings are the sort of thing that fledgling birds do. There is a learning curve for fledglings and they go through a period after leaving their nests when they are extremely naive, just like all youngsters who are one their own for the first time. The fact that it was hanging around the male also suggests that it is a fledgling. Young birds often continue to get fed by their parents for a few weeks after fledging.
Images made with a Canon 5Div, 100-400mm f4.5-5.6 ISII lens+1.4x telextender, M setting, ISO 640, f8 @ 1/1250.