One of the most striking of all flycatchers, both in its colouration and its courtship behaviour, the male vermilion flycatcher (Pyrocephalus rubinus) is a small but unmistakable bird. The head, underparts and bushy-crested crown are a brilliant scarlet colour, contrasting strongly with the black eyestripe, beak and legs, and the sooty-black to blackish-brown back, wings and tail. Unusually for the Tyrannidae family, the female vermilion flycatcher has a very different appearance, with a pale, greyish-brown head, back and wings, a blackish tail, and a whitish throat and underparts. The underparts show variable amounts of dusky streaking, and the lower belly ranges in colour from whitish to yellow, pink, salmon or vermilion. Juveniles resemble the female, but have whiter wing edges and a whitish lower belly, without the yellow or pink tinge, while immature males may have variable amounts of pink, orange or red mottling on the head and underparts. Some populations of vermilion flycatcher also show melanistic (dark) forms, which are particularly common around Lima in Peru. The vermilion flycatcher typically perches quite conspicuously in open areas, often dipping its tail up and down. Its calls include a distinctive ‘peent’, given by both the male and female, and a musical song given by the male during display flights.


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