Sunday, September 2, 2007

Paradise Flycatcher

Paradise Flycatcher

Paradise Flycatcher image courtsey:

Paradise Flycatchers belong to the big group of passerine birds, flycatchers are of various types, The African which belongs to the family Muscicapidae where as those in Australia and South Asia are of Dicruriae family. Let us pursue the South Asian varieties which are more beautiful and eligible for the name ‘Paradise Flycatchers’. There are migratory (found in Turkestan, Manchuria etc as well as sedentary birds in this group. The sedentary variety of Sri Lanka is chestnut colored both male and female. When African types mostly live in the deserts and forests their southern counterparts live permanently on trees, The Indian flycatchers prefer mango trees above all. Let us see why these birds got this sacred name.

Bird possesses god dispossesses.

This is a piece of conversation between a poor chest nut colored bird sitting on the fence of the Garden of Eden and The Angel who guarded the golden gate of Paradise.

Bird “I am a poor bird with no name to call coming from a distant place. Your garden looks amazing will you please let me in; I will live their catching troublesome flies and singing sweet songs so that all the inmates may be a happier lot”

Angel “Your idea is good; little bird, but this place is The Garden of Eden and only dead souls who are pure within and without are allowed to enter here, you can come and plead for entry soon after you are dead!”

The wannabe bird was a little upset but he didn’t give up, he went back and engaged in a singing spree praising god almighty and the Garden of Eden. He pestered his friends by his preaching and his friends began to fly away to escape from his evangelism.

But God Almighty was pleased by his good work and blessed him to have a snow-white plumage. The innocent bird took it as a permission to be in paradise and approached the Angel. Seeing the beautiful bird the angel was wonderstruck and asked the ‘blessed visitor’ to wait and went to the Almighty with the visitor’s plea for entry.

There were so many visitors in waiting; to them ‘the blessed one’ boasted about his change of color and claimed he is close to the Almighty but the Omnipotent could hear the foolish bird’s chatter sitting in his throne and thought of teaching arrogant little bird a lesson. He sent a message through the Guardian Angel; which read

“You are pure and white outside but deserve a lot of improvement inside. I will let you have two long feathers on tail and a head colored black with slight blackness at the border of the wings it is a message to the fellow birds that blackness inside is a disqualification to be in, you can return home for the present, hereafter you will be known as Paradise Flycatcher”. As soon as the snow-white bird read the message his head turned black and black edges appeared on his tail-feathers appeared in his tail! The little rowdy had to go home with some black feathers.

Yet he has a handsome figure.

With his extremely long silky white twin feathers in tail, peacock blue and black anterior and a lovely crest of special feathers; the mail Fly Catchers are as graceful as a pea-cock. The above story though a figment of someone’s imagination is well deserved for these lovely birds. These birds are known as ribbon birds in some places for their long tails.

Male v/s female.

Females are a bit different with chest-nut dorsal (upper) parts bluish-black neck and head absence of extra-long feathers on tails they look poor cousins of the males! As per the story it was the male that went to the Paradise! They have beautiful eyes with bright black and round shape. These birds move in pairs their movements are graceful and they fly from tree to tree as doing somersaults catching flies make them a good time pass if spotted.


Paradise Flycatchers grow to a size of 17 centimeters (The Asian varieties grow up to 20 cm) their young males are active and graceful they sport chestnut colored plumage like that of the females, which are later replaced by white ones. The two median or middle tail feathers are called streamers (the most striking feature of male Paradise Flycatchers) grow to a length of sixteen inches. Only in the fourth year does the plumage in the tail and body become snow-white.

Weak legged.

Since the hen birds are chestnut in color and do not carry two long ribbon-like feathers in their tails, they are generally taken as bulbuls of some sort. With not so strong feet to stride on the ground this bird is entirely arboreal in nature but African Flycatchers are found to be living in deserts like Sahara..


They flit about in pairs in the shade of pleasant groves and cool places looking for insects, a fly however fast it may be; will not escape from this expert ‘predator’. While flying from tree to tree or turning and twisting like an acrobat in mid-air after insects, they go on twitter, with occasional louder calls, at times they break in to little songs.

Building it high.

The breeding season as in most birds of the tropical region is from April to June. The leafy end of an over hanging branch is a favorite site for the nest the flycatchers of Indian Sub-continent seem to have preference towards mango trees. Nests are made at substantial heights so that they are secure from predatory animals like cats and mongooses.

The nest is built with moss, moss-roots, vegetable fibers and fine grass. The greater portion of the thin frame-work is made of grass and is bound with cobwebs.

The nest is quite shallow and resembles a delicate or fine grass and is two to three inches in diameter and about two inches deep. A clutch has often two to four eggs which are oval with one end pointed. The eggs may be pale, pinkish-white male as well as female share the duty like incubation as well as attending the young.

By just saying that these birds are insectivorous their contribution to Mother-Nature is not adequately expressed, the quantity of insects a bird consume in its life-span is tremendous, without these insects would have made life impossible on earth.

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