Paradise-Flycatchers -Monarchidae

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The  choice of name "Flycatchers" for this species of birds often leads the Paradise Flycatchers to be members of a large group of birds named "Flycatchers". In fact, these bird "Paradise Flycatcher" are slotted together with another beautiful bird that we all know - the Monarch! Here are the 3 members in this group.

Black-naped Monarch Hypothymis azurea
Asian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi
Japanese Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone atrocaudata

Within this small group of birds, the one bird where all attention would focus on would be the long tailed bird Asian Paradise Flycatcher.

The bird has its origin from an area that much wider than many other birds. Starting west from Afghanistan, then the Indian sub-continent,  southern China and the Sundas. It is resident as well as winter visitors to Malaysia.

In real situation in Malaysia, these birds are rarely encountered. For example, I do not have information as to whether the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher was sighted.

For this page I only show the Asian Paradise Flycatcher. I have decided to have the Monarch in a separate page.


Asian Paradise Flycatcher- White morph Terpsiphone paradisi affinis


Under the common name of Asian Paradise Flycatcher, there are 3 types of male birds. The long-tailed white morph, the long-tailed rufous colored dark morph and the normal tailed rufous male Flycatcher. The bird is about 21cm long with the tail feathers elongating another 28 cm long. The tail feathers consist of 12 feathers among which 2 central feathers are growing into streamers.

So the birds whether white or rufous mature and their feathers show as the bird ages. The 3rd bird with short or normal tailed male would remain unchanged. It is not surprising in the field to see the short tailed rufous male breeding and one tends to assume that this is a immature bird, no it is an adult.

It is also not sure when and how the long streamers would break off and when they would be re-appearing. Here are pictures of a white morph without the long tail.

Like Flycatchers, these birds sally for their food i.e. taking off and snapping insects off the air. They do glean too but much less. This beautiful bird prefers deep jungles with few human movements. It is found in levels both the middle storey and the lower level. When spotted it would take of immediately stopping some distances away in thick bushes.

The Asian Paradise Flycatcher is monogamous and again it is the female who do the choosing. Those female who matured earlier will have the first choice of choosing the more matured male, the white morph and those with no choice but have to be contended with the short tail rufous Paradise Flycatcher. This assumption came about from observations on the size of the clutches of eggs, each type of male helped in producing.

The male bird handles the nest building task by himself. No sure about this as other reports mentioned that the nest building done by both.


 Size & diagnostic markings:- 13 Cm. The bird itself is only 23 cm long and the tail if any could extend another 27 cm long. The head and breast in slaty grey and the crown black. The upper part in rufous-chestnut and the under part is white. They have blue eye ring and a stout bill. The bird with a fully black head are immature and are likely to turn into white morph. The males too, may have short tails like the female.

 Distribution :-  The birds are found in belt stretching from Turkestan, the Indian sub-continent, China and the Sundas. the birds all winter in the south. the sub-species Terpsiphone p. affinis is resident in Malaysia
 Habitats & preferences:- This is a lowland forest bird but prefers hills with scrubs
 In Malaysia, where can the bird be found:- The bird were seen often in Kiara as in hills and also in the mangrove forest. When not breeding the bird would prefer dense forest


 My personal jottings :-

This is a series of pictures on one nesting was taken at the gate to the ticketing counter at the Deer Farm in Rengit.

The birds has very set ideas of the location and how the nest should be. It is about 1.8 meters from the ground among thick scrubs. It should be of fixed distance to a matured tree as well as certain distance from a public road.

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos:-



Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 1

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 2

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 3

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 4

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 5

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 6

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 7

Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 8

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 9

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 12

Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 13

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 14

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 15

Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 16

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 17

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 18

Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 19

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 20

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 21

Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 22

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 23

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 24

Asian Paradise Flycatcher# 25

Asian Paradise Flycatcher # 26

Asian Paradise Flycatcher- dark morph Terpsiphone paradisi


The Rufous Asian Paradise Flycatcher is identical to the white morph with the exception of its tail feathers growing only to 23 cm as compared to the 28 cm. This is a different bird from the short-tailed Asia Paradise Flycatcher.

Record of bird's calls :-    and Videos:-
Rufous morph # 1 Rufous morph # 2 Rufous morph # 3 Rufous morph # 4
Rufous morph # 5 Rufous morph # 6 Rufous morph # 7 Rufous morph # 8
Rufous morph # 9 Rufous morph # 10 Rufous immatured # 11

Female Paradise -Flycatchers   Terpsiphone paradisi

The short-tailed Asian Paradise Flycatcher is very much the same as the female bird. The only way to differentiate them is the bright blue eye ring that the males has.


female Paradise- Flycatcher  # 1

female Paradise- Flycatcher# 2

female Paradise- Flycatcher # 3

female Paradise- Flycatcher  # 4

female Paradise- Flycatcher# 5

female Paradise- Flycatcher # 6

female Paradise- Flycatcher  # 7

female Paradise- Flycatcher# 8

female Paradise- Flycatcher # 9

female Paradise- Flycatcher  # 10

female Paradise- Flycatcher# 11

female Paradise- Flycatcher # 12

female Paradise- Flycatcher  # 13

female Paradise- Flycatcher# 14

female Paradise- Flycatcher # 15


I like looking for this bird in the migratory season for more pictures. There are Paradise Flycatchers which are now resident, like this one breeding in Rengit and Taman Negara. These Paradise Flycatcher when not breeding are sensitive birds and normally would be away from our eyes before we spot them. But female Paradise Flycatchers are common that most people tend to meet up with, these are winter visitors who turn up at forest edge in public parks with thick bushes and on hill slopes. The Kiara hills is one such popular places where the birds would make stop over as passage migrant each year.