Northern Royal Flycatcher
|NORTHERN ROYAL FLYCATCHER (Desmodus rotundus)
This shy bird, mottled brown to orangey in color, has a secret weapon. When it is threatened, or when it wants to show off to its girlfriend, the male can flash a bright red crown of feathers, called a crest. Females have their own crest, although it’s yellow. Some scientists classify the Northern Royal Flycatcher as a subspecies of the Onychorhynchus coronatus, since it is very similar.
These little songbirds (about 16 cm) have relatively big bills, which they put to good use when catching prey, including flies, butterflies, and dragonflies. Hiding amongst the foliage, they wait for an insect or another arthropod to pass by, then, quick as a flash, they dart out and catch it, usually in mid-air.
They are found in the forests and woodlands of the Amazon basin. They will build long, drooping nests from the lower branches of trees, usually hanging over shady streams. The nests can be up to 6 feet long and provide security against the predation of the nest. The female lays two eggs at a time and protects them in the nest and after they are born. They are generally very quiet birds, which helps them to avoid being noticed by predators. Once in a while, they may give a sharp cry.
Snakes and birds of prey are the main predators of Royal Flycatchers. They are sometimes seen in flocks with other types of birds but are more often found alone. Although habitat destruction is a concern, this species seems to be stable at the moment.