By Dan Weisz
There are always beautiful Vermilion Flycatchers all around Tucson. I went wandering one recent morning and many Vermilion Flycatchers already seem to be paired up for the spring. This was the first female Vermilion I was able to come close to.
She remained on that arched branch for a while allowing me to step to the side a bit and take more photos from a close distance. Here she is on the same spot on the same branches above, but from a different perspective. As I moved to my right, the sky disappeared and a tree moved into the background.
A moment later and she had quickly closed her nictitating membrane- that third eyelid birds have. You can see a foggy look to her eye. For more on birds’ nictitating membrane, BirdNote has an excellent and very short podcast on the subject. BirdNote airs pieces on NPR weekly and their stories are usually less than two minutes long: https://www.audubon.org/news/birds-have-built-goggles
This Pied-billed Grebe has developed its breeding season plumage. The white eye-ring is now very distinct. The black stripe through its beak is visible, and the grebe has black feathers under its neck. Now only if a nice partner were to fly into the lake and join it!!! (WhenI first heard of this bird, I wondered what “pied” meant. I remembered the Pied Piper of Hamilton but didn’t know the meaning of the word. Pied means having two or more colors. This grebe, in breeding season, has a bill with two colors, therefore it is pied.)
Lesser Goldfinches were high up in the trees and very, very active. This female did sit still for a short while.
Here is a male Vermilion Flycatcher. It perched where I could see a solid wall behind it, making for an interesting backdrop. He’s about as far out on that twig as possible. It was a cool morning and many of the birds I saw had their breast feathers puffed out to retain the heat and stay warm.
Another male Vermilion Flycatcher used a perch right at the water’s edge. You can listen to a nice piece on BirdNote about Vermilion Flycatchers: https://www.birdnote.org/listen/shows/vermilion-flycatcher
He also used a nearby twig on the same tree after some of his hunting flights.
Finally, one more female Vermilion Flycatcher at a different location.
If you’d like to hear another piece about Vermilion Flycatchers on BirdNote, author Nicholas Belardes talks about the Vermilion being his “spark” bird. Perhaps this will inspire you to take a walk around a nearby park or field to get a nice look at these special birds! https://www.birdnote.org/listen/shows/spark-bird-nick-belardes-and-vermilion-flycatcher