November 7, 2008

Red & Black

For all of you Ute fans out there--congratulations! Last night's win over TCU was even exciting for me. (And I don't really care that much about the U or college football.) Why don't we celebrate with a brief look at a bird that would have fit right in at the stadium last night?

Your BOTW is the vermilion flycatcher.
Fact: The male vermilion flycatcher has a dazzling red head and underparts, set off by blackish wings, tail, and nape. The female is totally inconspicuous. Gray with more gray, and just a hint of salmon under the tail. (When the only color you're wearing is salmon? Yeah, you've got a problem.)
Fact: The vermilion flycatcher is quite small, just 5 to 6 inches tall.
Fact: As you might imagine, the vermilion flycatcher catches flies. Like most flycatchers, it sits on an open perch, locates a bug, and then shoots out to grab it. (See video for an example. Most of the action takes place right at the beginning, so if the video has already rolled, start it over.)

Fact: Large insects, like grasshoppers, are brought back to the perch and beat against a branch to kill them.
Fact: Bugs are a flycatcher's only currency, so it makes sense that when the male vermilion flycatcher really wants to impress a lady, he presents her with a showy butterfly or other colorful insect. "A moth?! For me? Oh, you shouldn't have!"
Fact: "It's really nice, but can you at least put it down first?" According to The Birds of North America Online, males vermilion flycatchers have been observed still holding the colorful butterfly as they copulate with the female.
Fact: The male vermilion flycatchers is also known for its spectacular courtship flight. Its flies 10 to 30 feet above the trees, singing all the way.
Fact: Vermilion flycatchers live mainly in the south and southwest, so you likely won't see one around the University of Utah campus. But, if you're a true Ute fan, you'll look for one on your next trip to St. George.

This has been Your BOTW.

On an unrelated note, I was a little chagrined recently when I learned from SiteMeter that at least two people (one from Germany) had found my blog by googling "goose penis." Am I running a trashy blog without even realizing it?

Photo credit: Charles & Clint


mean amy said...

It would be hard to do it with a moth in your mouth....that's very Silence of the Lambs-ish....

Patrick said...

Maybe they just aren't very exciting lovers so it helps to keeps something bright and shiny around to keep the girls interested. And no I am not speaking from personal experience!

Sean and Andrea Gumm said...

Go Utes! Maybe after Utah beats the team down south, you can do a post about the U's mascot, Swoop, the red tailed hawk! Maybe there is a YouTube video of a red tailed hawk attacking a cougar. That would be awesome.

Tim said...

That's a fine-looking bird. I think if you want to keep your German fan base you'd better find a clip of the vermilion flycatchers getting it on.

See, it's a good thing Prop. 8 passed or else we'd eventually be doing weird stuff like having sex with moths in our mouths. Next logical step. (sarcasm for those who don't know me).

Rachel said...

Ooo! I think that's my favorite bird so far on BOTW, in spite of my being a BYU alumnus.

Goose penis is a delicacy in Germany. The French have Goose liver, but the Germans love them some goose penis. ;)

Nature Blog Network
All About Birds: Free Bird Guide and More