The vermilion flycatcher is a small passerine bird in the Tyrannidae, or tyrant flycatcher family. Most flycatchers are rather drab, but the vermilion flycatcher is a striking exception. It is a favorite with birders, but is not generally kept in aviculture, as the males tend to lose their vermilion coloration when in captivity.


When Pieter Boddaert first described the vermilion flycatcher in 1783, from a specimen collected in Tefé, Brazil, he assigned it to the genus Muscicapa, believing it to be related to the many Old World flycatchers already belonging to that genus. By the 1830s, however,taxonomists realized that Old World and New World flycatchers were not closely related, and the New World birds were moved from their former genera. In 1839, John Gould created the current genus Pyrocephalus for the vermilion flycatcher. While it is considered amonotypic genus by many authorities, some taxonomists believe that one or both of the vermilion flycatcher subspecies found on the Galápagos Islands merit species status.


The vermilion flycatcher is a small bird, measuring 13–14 cm (5.1–5.5 in) in length, with a mass between 11 and 14 g (0.39 and 0.49 oz). It strongly dimorphic; males are bright red, with dark brown plumage. Females have a peach-colored belly with a dark gray upperside, and are similar to Say’s phoebe.

Distribution and habitat

Vermilion flycatchers generally prefer somewhat open areas, and are found in trees or shrubs in savannah, scrub, agricultural areas, riparian woodlands, and desert as well, but usually near water. Their range includes almost all of Mexico; it extends north into the southwestern United States, and south to scattered portions of Central America, parts of northwestern and central South America, and on southwards to central Argentina. They are also found in the Galápagos Islands. It has ranged as far north as Canada.

Similar species

The male is unmistakable. The female has an erect posture, light crest, striations on the chest and pink or yellowish wash in lower parts. It can be confused with the Striped Flytrap and the immature Beach Flytrap.


The flycatchers feed mostly on insects such as flies, grasshoppers and beetles. These are usually taken in mid-air, after a short sally flight from a perch. It is an opportunistic feeder, and has been observed eating small fish.


The vermilion flycatcher’s nest is a shallow cup made of small twigs and soft materials, lined with hair; the nest’s rim is often covered with lichen. Typically located within 6 ft (1.8 m) of the ground, the nest is placed in the horizontal fork of a tree branch. They lay two or three whitish eggs in a nest made of twigs, stems and roots, and lined with hair. The eggs are incubated for around two weeks by the female and the young are ready to leave the nest 15 days after hatching.


The nest is a cup of straw and lichen suspended or supported in a low hole. Lays 2-3 white eggs with large reddish-brown spots. Reproductive activity can occur throughout the year, but is concentrated between December and April.


Trusted; usually perched prominently on external branches of trees or shrubs, on fences, cables. Fly to the air or to the ground hunting insects. Their vocalizations consist of a soft, whiny series of 3-4 slightly trilled notes (hence their onomatopoeic name of Titiribí). On display it flies upward and sings a series of retinal notes as it slowly descends.

State of conservation

Favored by the expansion of the agricultural and urban frontier. It is considered a kind of minor concern.


Although they do not occur in Colombia, in other regions, such as Lima, Peru, individuals with completely opaque black plumage (melanic) are common.

Vocalization / Voice