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Copyright ©2016 Deborah M. Zajac

I met my friend Dali yesterday morning to do some local birding, but he said he’d read in a bird forum before leaving his house that there was a Vermilion Flycatcher in the area where we were last week-end birding in Sacramento Valley.

“Did I want to go look for that bird?” He asked.

“Oh yeah!” Was my reply. I had one errand to do in the opposite direction before I could leave for the 2.5 hour drive north.
I finished up my errand in record time. Thankfully there is very little traffic early Saturday mornings, then I met Dali again to head north to look for the Vermilion Flycatcher.

Vermilion Flycatcher-Male

We arrived at the spot that the bird had been seen hanging out and found a half dozen birders there observing the bird. We spent 30 minutes observing and photographing it before it flew off into a field and we lost sight of it.

Isn’t he beautiful! My Audubon Bird Field Guide says this bird’s “breeding range is Southeastern California east to western Texas and south to the tropics. Winters in southern part of breeding rage, but wanders as far east as Gulf Coast.”

It’s a resident of Southeast California, southwest Arizona, southern Texas, and Mexico. It Winters along the Gulf of Mexico’s coast.



Vermillion Flycatcher

We’re seeing this Vermilion Flycatcher in Sacramento Valley, California which is well to the north and west of its normal habitat! What a gift!!

This bird is a “lifer” for me! The definition of a “lifer” is, ” A bird species when it is first seen and positively identified by an individual birder. Generally birds must be observed in the wild, and in appropriate conditions to be added to one’s life list. Dead or captive birds are not usually counted as a “lifer”.

Vermilion Flycatcher-Male

“The bright colors of the male have earned it the Mexican name brasita de fuego, “little coal of fire.” ~ Audubon Bird Guide app for ios.   I love that name don’t you?

I also saw a Bald Eagle, and a Juvenile Bald Eagle yesterday. It was a stellar day for birding!

Nikon D300s| Nikkor 200-500mm E ED VR| Lexar Professional Digital Film| PS CC 2015

More to come…



  1. This is such a gorgeous little bird, Deborah! I like this “little coal of fire.”
    Your first photograph of the Vermilion Flycatcher was my favorite one of this sweet bird. 🙂

    • Thank you so much Robin! It was so exciting seeing it. We don’t have red birds here in CA. We have Finches year round, and Western Tanagers in the Winter, but they’re only partially red. 🙂

  2. Lovely!

  3. Congrats on this lifer, and I am in awe at your captures, what a stunner! Definitely a gift for the day! Woo-hoo!

  4. Am not a birder, but this little red bird on the pillar is too cute!

  5. Stunning! So glad you chose the Vermillion adventure :-). The spanish name is vividly appropriate – he does look like a partially red-hot coal.

  6. Your little coal of fire is stunning! I doubt I’ll ever see it for myself, so I am grateful for your long drive and fabulous birding and photography skills.

    • Thank you so much Melissa! I am so grateful he took a wrong turn and ended up close enough for me to see him. 🙂

  7. …that lens would pair up nicely with a D500, don’t you think?? 😀

    • I do! I am so excited by the specs of this camera! Finally a camera to replace my D300s! I’ll be repaying myself for the 200-500mm for the next 12 months and by then any bugs will be worked out of the D500 I hope. Really I hope there aren’t any! By this time next year I hope to be purchasing one if it’s as good as I hope it is. I’ve been waiting a long time for a true D300(s) replacement. I really want this D500 to be it.

  8. gorgeous bird!

  9. This bird – and the pictures you got of it are brilliant, in both senses.

    • Thank you so much Bunty! It was such a treat to see it. He’s so pretty! I am so glad he got lost and found his way to a place I was able to get to to see him!

  10. so beautiful!!!

  11. Your birding photos are spectacular, Deborah! Are you liking your new lens?

    • Thank you so much for such a wonderful compliment Wayne! Oh yes, I am really enjoying the lens. It’s fast enough for me, and so quiet. It’s going to retire my 300mm f4. 🙂

  12. Great photos and experience. Well worth the drive. Congratulations.

    • I couldn’t agree more! Well worth the drive. I’d do it again! 🙂 Thank you so much for the comment!

  13. What a beautiful bird Deborah! I love that first picture, he’s so handsome. To catch a glimpse of him so far out of his range must feel special.

    • Thank you so much Dan! That first image is my favorite too. I’m still doing the “happy dance”!

      When I called He-Man to tell him my plans changed yesterday morning, he thought I was loopy driving 2.5 hours one way to see a bird. When he saw the images and heard how unique it is here he didn’t think I was so loopy after all. 🙂

      • It’s such a pretty bird. I thought you were crazy too, but I’ve driven that far for something I really wanted to see/do. That was definitely worth seeing in person.

  14. Congratulations on seeing this beautiful bird. Amazing!

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