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RARITY: Vermilion flycatcher (male) leucistic.


Normal plumage for vermilion flycatcher.

  • On May 17th I went out on the "savannah" here in Tlacotalpan Veracruz to do some bird digiscoping. (digiscoping is a digital camera taking a photograph through a spotting scope)
    As I was walking back home after three hours of photographing, I caught some flight movement that got my attention. I observed something small, white and red flying away from me, it settled into some low growth across a canal some 250 meters from where I was standing. I have spent countless hours birding here on the savannah and and this was something different, I was getting "birders rush" with the anticipation of a new find.
    I started scanning the far side of the canal with the scope to see if I could spot my mystery bird. I stood perfectly still and scanned for a good ten minutes....yellow warbler, great-tailed grackle, white collared seedeater, northern jacana, ringed kingfisher, neotropic cormorant, forked-tailed flycatcher, great egret, bare-throated tiger heron, common tody-flycatcher.....no luck.
    Suddenly I spot it, white wings and red body flying back across the canal toward me, it settled down in some thorn scrub about 75 meters from where I was standing. I move the scope to focus in...a male Vermilion flycatcher with pinkish/white mask,wings and emerging tail feathers, leucistic!
    I slowly raise my digital Sony Mavica 250 CD camera to the eyepiece of my Nikon 80 spotting scope with the hopes that I can get at least one fairly clear picture. Good fortune was with me, over the next twenty minutes I was able to take around 100 photos of this unusal partial albinic vermilion flycatcher. As typical of the vermilion flycatcher, it swooped from its thorny perch to catch an insect in flight looping to return to its original perch.
    In the minutes that followed, time disappeared as the small vermilion flycatcher flew in closer to where I was standing, providing me with ever closer views. The following are images that I was able to capture;
    VIEW_1
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    Here are two photos that give you a comparison view of plumages of the vermilion flycatchers

    VIEW_9 Compare
    VIEW_10 Compare


    I am quite excited to have been able to experience this observation and happy to share it with you. I have seen many hundreds of Vermilion flycatchers here in Veracruz over the past six years, but this is the first that I have ever seen one displaying these particular traits.

    You may copy any of the images and share them for educational or non-commercial use. Please leave the text intact.

    Good birding,
    David McCauley
    Tlacotalpan Veracruz MEXICO


  • About me

    • I'm David L. McCauley
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    • David L. McCauley a nature photographer, birding guide. I am currently involved with two projects. 1 ¬†leading birding tours with a focus on the bird of prey migrations in Veracruz Mexico. ¬†and 2. Working on a 12 acre plot of land using principles of natural farming, Permaculture, gardening with the end goal of sustainability.
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