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Vermilion Flycatcher - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Pyrocephalus rubinus)
P. r. rubinus, male
Photo © by Imageinnovator
Pantanal, Mato Grosso, Brazil, September 2016
Pyrocephalus rubinus

Includes: Scarlet Flycatcher, Darwin's Flycatcher, San Cristobal Flycatcher
Name often mis-spelled "Vermillion" due to confusion with the number million.


P. r. rubinus, female
Photo © by Imageinnovator
Poconê, Mato Grosso, Brazil, August 2015

Length 13–14 cm (5½ in), weight 11–14 g
Strongly sexually dimorphic. Adult male is unmistakable.
Male: Bright vermilion-red underparts and cap, dark brownish wings, tail and mask.
Female: Dull brownish or greyish upperparts, whitish underparts streaked dark brown. In some subspecies they have pinkish or yellow flanks and/or crissum.
First year: Resembles female but where female has reddish-pink lower belly and crissum, the first year birds often have a more yellowish or salmon wash.
Second year: Males start to acquire patches of red adult plumage, typically on the forehead first.


P. r. mexicanus, juvenile
Photo © by bobsofpa
Cottonwood Campground, Big Bend National Park, Texas, USA, April 2016

Females from Galapagos have virtually unstreaked, yellow underparts.

Both sexes of subspecies P. r. obscurus (from coastal Peru) also occur in a uniformly dark brown morph.

Similar Species

P. r. mexicanus, male
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge, Chambers County, Texas, USA, October 2017

Females and immatures are potentially confusing, but can be separated from most other superficially similar species (e.g. Bran-colored Flycatcher) by the faint or complete lack of wing-bars. From Say's Phoebe told by its smaller size, shorter tail, whitish supercilium, and streaked breast.


P. r. flammeus, female
Photo © by Joseph Morlan
Merced, California, USA, 17 February 2021

It is widespread and generally common in most of central and northern South America, Central America, Mexico and southwestern United States.

Typically resident, but a large proportion of the population from the southernmost part of its range migrate north to spend the Austral winter in central South America. Additionally, most of the population in USA migrate south to spend the winter in Central America.


P. r. obscurus, second-year male, light morph
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Olivar Park, San Isidro, Lima, Peru, August 2017

Recently split by IOC into four species, one in southeastern South America, one in northern and western South America, Central America, and southern North America, and two in the Galapagos Islands[1] following genetic studies[2]; listed here as subspecies groups.


P. r. obscurus, dark morph male
Photo © by Stanley Jones
Parque El Olivar in San Isidro, Lima, Peru, April 2017

Around 12–13 subspecies are generally recognised[3]:
Rubinus Group (Pyrocephalus rubinus sensu stricto; Scarlet Flycatcher)

Obscurus Group (Pyrocephalus obscurus; Vermilion Flycatcher)

  • P. r. flammeus: arid southwestern US to Baja California and north-western Mexico (Nayarit)
  • P. r. mexicanus: arid southwestern Texas to Guerrero, Oaxaca, Puebla and Veracruz
  • P. r. blatteus: southeastern Mexico (southern Veracruz) to Guatemala and Honduras
  • P. r. pinicola: lowland pine savanna of northeastern Nicaragua
  • P. r. saturatus: northeastern Colombia to northern Venezuela, Guyana and northern Brazil
  • P. r. piurae: Colombia (west of Eastern Andes) to westelrn Ecuador and northwestern Peru
  • P. r. ardens: northern Peru (Cajamarca, Amazonas and extreme eastern Piura)
  • P. r. obscurus: western Peru (Lima)
  • P. r. cocachacrae: southwestern Peru (Ica to Tacna) and adjacent northern Chile
  • P. r. major: southeastern Peru (Cuzco and Puno; doubtfully distinct from P. r. cocachacrae)

Main Galapagos Group (Pyrocephalus nanus; Darwin's Flycatcher)

San Cristobal Island Group (Pyrocephalus dubius; San Cristobal Flycatcher)


Photo © by mtbirder
Tuscon, Arizona

Occurs in a wide range of open or semi-open habitats, including savanna, forest-edge, woodland, scrub, areas with scattered trees. Also in rural zones and city parks or gardens.



Feeds on small insects and spiders. It perches on an open branch, waiting for the prey. After locating it, the flycatcher pursues and captures it in flight.


The courtship display of the male involves singing, raising its crest, fluffing its breast-feathers and, sometimes, delivering a butterfly or showy insect to the female to initiate copulation.

Breeding is seasonal, but timing varies depending on region. The nest is an open cup loosely constructed by moss, grass, twigs and spiderwebs. The 2-3 eggs are incubated entirely by the female, but both sexes feed the chicks.


  1. Gill, F. and Donsker, D. (Eds). 2017. IOC World Bird Names (version 7.3). Available at http://www.worldbirdnames.org/.
  2. Carmi, O., Witt, C. C., Jaramillo, A., & Dumbacher, J. P. (2016). Phylogeography of the Vermilion Flycatcher species complex: Multiple speciation events, shifts in migratory behavior, and an apparent extinction of a Galápagos-endemic bird species. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 102: 152-173 (abstract).
  3. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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