Vermilion Flycatchers in Bonsall

Paula Theobald

Today at the old Bonsall golf course (now mostly owned by San Diego County Parks and Recreation) we located 6 breeding pairs of Vermilion Flycatchers. In the northwest section, two pairs were feeding three fledglings and one pair were obviously feeding nestlings but nest was not located. In the southern section, a female was feeding three nestlings, one female was on a nest and one pair was obviously feeding nestlings but nest wasn’t located.

Vermilion flycatchers at this location have only been observed nesting in male (non-blooming) cottonwood trees. They seem to prefer a group of cottonwoods other than a single tree. Since the golf course was designed with cottonwoods lining many of the fairways, maybe that is why the species have chosen this a favorite spot in the county.

Now that Parks and Rec is mowing pathways for walkers, the breeding VEFL must have benefited. The northeast section, privately owned, is not mowed. No breeding pairs have been found there although in the winter individuals are still seen in all sections of the old golf course. Another factor is probably the demise of several groups of cottonwoods in the northeast section that burned in the 2017 Lilac Fire.

If you visit the site and find nests, please contact me offline. There are at least two pairs that were MIA today!

Paula Theobald