African Paradise-Flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis)Other names:
Dutch: Afrikaanse paradijsmonarch
French: Tchitrec d'Afrique
Portuguese: Papa-Moscas do ParaízoClassification:
Genus: Terpsiphone (= delightful voice)Identification:
The most obvious feature about this species is the flowing orange-rust tail, very long in the male. Size: 17-20 cm (35 cm in breeding males, of which 18 cm is the tail). Sexes are dimorphic in plumage coloration.
Adult male: Head, throat and nape metallic greenish black. Crown feathers raised into slight crest. Back, upper rump and tail bright rusty (chestnut). Central pair of rectrices usually very elongated (loses its long tail in the non-breeding season). Wing coverts rusty. Proximal underwing coverts off-white, forming pale 'armpit'. Breast smokey grey, paler on belly and flanks; very pale buff, occasionally white. Bill pale blue. Eyes dark brown, with fleshy ultramarine eye wattle that touches similarly coloured gape. Legs and feet bluish slate.
Adult female: Same as male, but metallic blackish green confined to crown; remainder of head, nape and throat same smoky grey as breast. Usually has only slightly elongated central rectices. Eye wattle and gape dull blue, wattle not touching gape. Bill bluish slate; rictal bristles prominent.
Juvenile: As adult female, but head lacks metallic sheen. Eyes pale brown.Voice:
Territorial song of male a loud, rippling phrase of 5-6 liquid notes, usually repeated, almost without break, tzzeee switty-tsweep-sweepy-taweep.
Varies individually and geographically. Contact call zeet zwayt, zeet-er
Nest-building female gives excited, high-pitched, tripping chirree chirree chirree
, or chizzareereet
; sharp tcheep
on leaving nest, softer chee-urr
on returning. Both sexes give tjee-kurr
when bringing food to nest. Alarm call tjek-urr
, by both sexes. Husky skizzit
when mobbing snake, Human approach provokes rumbling from male and chick chick-chicky ricky
from female on nest.Distribution:
Most of sub-Saharan Africa, but absent from driest parts of south west and Horn of Africa. Also in south east Arabia. In southern Africa, absent only from arid regions of Karoo, Kalahari, southern Namibia and Namib Desert. In southern highveld of South Africa, regular in well-wooded towns and suburbs, but largely absent from rural areas.Habitat:
This is a common species of well-wooded areas, well treed suburbs, riverine and coastal forests and thickets in more open savannah. In drier areas, largely confined to riparian vegetation. Absent from fynbos, except for forest patches and riverine strips. Common in miombo woodland in Zimbabwe; sometimes also in Mozambique. Also in alien timber plantations, especially Poplars. In KwaZulu-Natal, breeding records from riverine vegetation, Acacia
woodland, coastal lowland and mistbelt forests, mangroves, dune forest and gardens.General Habits, Foraging & Food:
Solitary or in pairs; occasionally in groups of 3. Very vocal, and tolerant of human presence. Often active, flitting through foliage or across open spaces, pausing briefly on perch. Bathes by plunge-diving into water, keeping long tail feathers out of water, or by hopping among hanging wet leaves. Drinks by dipping bill in water in flight.
Hawks from a perch in a tree, looking upwards and outwards for passing insects, seizes in brief aerial sallies, often with complicated acrobatics. In many instances quite unobtrusive despite colourful dress. Most prey are brought back to perch. White Pieridae butterflies are favoured prey, but difficult to catch. Other food include grasshoppers, moths, African Migrant Catopsilia florella
butterflies, beetles, midges, mosquitoes, insect eggs, caterpillars, lacewings, Lycaenid butterflies, mantids, cockroaches, ant alates, spiders and of course, flies.Breeding:
The breeding season is from September to March. Courtship preceded by much chasing by both sexes; male shivers wings with bill fully open, twittering softly; female may respond in similar fashion, or make first approach. Alternatively, female flies from branch to branch, fanning tail. Male approaches female with upward sweep, turning in mid air before returning to perch; both birds silent.Although chics soon find own food these two were still
being fed by the parents (Skukuza Camp, Jan'2006)
Nest: Built by both sexes, the nest is a neat shallow cup of bark roots and grass, bound together with spider web and lined with rootlets. It often has pieces of lichen attached to the outside as decoration (decoration added last). The nest is often placed on the fork of a slender branch which is hanging over a small stream or other water.Incubation is shared equally by both sexes (Olifants Camp, Jan'2006)Status:
Summer visitor; resident in the northeast.Conservation:
Not threatened.As a matter of interest: Stamps from various african countries showing African Paradise-Flycatcher
------------------------------Sources: Roberts Birds of Southern Africa VII ; SASOL Bird e-Guide.