African Paradise Flycatcher

Terpsiphone viridis

Certainly one of our prettiest small birds, the shy African Paradise Flycatcher is distributed widely over sub-Saharan Africa where they inhabit a variety of woodland habitats and well-planted gardens and parks in city suburbs, being particularly common in evergreen forests and denser woodland types such as is found along rivers and large streams. They feed mainly on tiny flying insects, or invertebrates (including spiders) gleaned from leaves and twigs, and occasionally berries.

Without their streaming tail feathers, adult males of this species measure around 17cm in length – double that if you include the tail – and weigh about 14g.

Pairs of the African Paradise Flycatchers are monogamous and they may even mate for life. They breed in summer, with both sexes working on the construction of the tiny cup-shaped nests using spider web and a variety of other fine natural materials. Clutches of 2 or 3 eggs are incubated by both parents and hatch after just two weeks. The chicks leave the nest at about two weeks of age, and the parents care for the newly fledged chicks for another week or so after that.

In South Africa, Paradise Flycatchers can be found in all our provinces with the exception of the arid Northern Cape. Here they exhibit distinct seasonal movements, trekking to the lower lying coastal areas and lowveld during the harsh winter on the higher lying areas. The IUCN considers the African Paradise Flycatcher to be of least concern.

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30 thoughts on “African Paradise Flycatcher

    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Seeing as only males have the exceptionally long tail it probably has a role to play in courtship, Hien. Seeing them fly with those streamers flowing behind is quite a sight!

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