By Dan Weisz
Three days after I visited the Vermilion Flycatcher for my last photo session, I returned to see what I would find. The young birds in the nest looked very healthy and active, Mama Vermilion was keeping a close eye on the nest, and Papa Vermilion was doing his duty bringing food to the nest
Here is the mother Vermilion perched on the branch close to the nest. Female Vermilion Flycatchers never get the bright red feathers of the male but instead have a lightly streaked breast and a yellow/salmon blush i the underparts. Females are also more brown on their backs while males tend towards black on their backs.
All three chicks were in the nest. The spotting on their heads is very cute and the one bird’s wing stretch told me he was getting stronger and growing up quickly.
Every time we saw the chicks open their beaks, we knew they had sensed that Papa was close by and ready to deliver a snack. The chick on the left has its tongue raised in anticipation.
This sequence, and the photos from this sequence that I am not sharing, all occured in less than a second. The babies open their beaks, and Papa comes flying in, stopping for a quick food transfer before he swiftly leaves the nest. The young below are tracking their parent in flight. If you scroll from the photo above to the two below you can see their gaze and their attention shift as their parent comes flying towards them.
And now they are very ready to eat.
There were only two birds in the nest at that point because one had decided it was time to head out on its own. We watched it flutter and crawl up the tree trunk until it reached a small branch a few feet above the nest where it paused.
In the meantime, Papa continued to feed the two in the nest. All of my shots of him are blurred as he sped through the process. Once in a while he paused after feeding. At all times, the birds were hidden behind his body as he fed them. Here he had finished his food delivery and stopped before flying off.
Guess which bird did not get the snack this time?
And Mama continued to pay attention from all around the tree. Here she had come back to my favorite perch.
After a bit we left. A friend of mine visited the nest that afternoon and was able to watch a second chick leave the nest. We knew the third would follow very soon so this family has begun a new chapter. The young will continue to be fed by their parents for some time until they are independent hunters.