Royal Flycatcher - Boldly-Colored Crest
The royal flycatcher is a name used for the birds in the genus Onychorhynchus within the family Tityridae. While there are roughly four separate species in the commonly named group “royal flycatcher”, the name is most commonly used in reference to the species Onychorhynchus coronatus (the Amazonian), though the common name does apply to all members of the aforementioned genus. The part of the name “royal” is in reference to the fantastic feather display on the crown of the animal's head, which is a brilliant array of red, yellow, white, blue and/or black. This spectacular display of plumage - like similar displays on male tropical birds - is generally only on display during courtship rituals and in competition with other males over breeding or territory. Normally the plumed crest is lying flat but it can open up like a fan.
These showy birds are typically found in the wilds of Central and South America, in the woodland and forest areas of the Amazon River basin, and as far as Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. The Amazonian species is populous, so much so that the IUCN considers them of least conservation concern. The northern royal flycatcher is found mostly in Mexico, but as far south as Colombia and Venezuela. Like the Amazonian bird, this flycatcher is around 7 inches long at largest (18 cm) and is similarly non-threatened as far as the IUCN is concerned. Not all of the members of this family are so populous though, the Atlantic and Pacific royal flycatcher species are both considered vulnerable by the IUCN due to habitat destruction. They live in the dry forests and woodlands near the coastal regions of the same territories that their inland cousins dwell in. These dry conditions lend themselves to forest fires which in addition to human impact have caused these species to become increasingly threatened. All the varieties of this group are specialists at catching insects in mid-flight with their broad bills.