The Vermilion flycatcher's Latin name, Pyrocephalus rubinus, translates into English as "red fire-head." This is an appropriate description of its appearance -- with its stunning coloration and Zorro-like mask -- as well as temperament. The Vermilion flycatcher is noted for its sharp, insistent call and habit of passionately pumping and spreading its tail feathers.
The only significant population of Vermilion flycatchers in Nevada is found at the 1,200-acre Mormon Ranch in Moapa Valley. Surrounded by bone-dry Mojave Desert scrub, the Moapa Valley perfectly accommodates the Vermilion flycatcher's need of mesquite groves for nesting, and flooded fields for catching the aquatic insects it feeds on.
The largest threat to the Vermilion flycatcher in this desert oasis is cowbirds, which aggressively parasitize their nests.
What the Conservancy is Doing
As part of its Muddy River Project, The Nature Conservancy is working with the owners of the Mormon Ranch and other partners to control the cowbird population. We are also developing and implementing local land management practices favorable to the Vermilion flycatcher and other breeding birds including Black and Say's phoebes, hooded and Bullock's orioles, yellow-breasted chats, blue grosbeaks, and Lucy's warblers.