Black-headed Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone rufiventer)
The black-headed paradise flycatcher is a small bird, usually around 7 inches in length. It is sometimes referred to as a red-bellied paradise fly catcher as well. This is a dimorphic species, which means that males and females have different characteristics in their appearance. Males have long tail streamers that can be almost twice their body length. Females tend to be duller in color than males, and lack the long tail streamers. Both have a glossy black head with a medium grey-blue beak that is broad and slightly hooked at the end. The rest of their body is a red chestnut color with a black wing bar. They have a range of vocalizations from song-like whistles to harsh calls.
The black-headed paradise flycatcher has a fairly large range and can be found within the moist lowland forests of western and central Africa. While it is believed that this species migrates within its African range, little is known about these migratory patterns. This species is monogamous, and it is thought that females choose males with the longest tail streamers. They build their deep cup-like nests on tree branches three to ten feet off the ground, usually in a fork in the branch. Fairly territorial, the couple defends their nest aggressively, but is known to nest close to another pair and all assist in defending their region from predators and invaders.
As their name suggests, the black-headed paradise flycatcher is an insectivore. They feed on a variety of insects, most of which are caught while flying. However, they also hunt while perched and occasionally will join other species in feeding flocks.
While they are currently no estimations of their population size, black-headed paradise flycatcher populations appear to remain strong. However, they do face problems of habitat destruction as the lowland forests are cleared for agricultural purposes.
- Bird Life International: http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=31272&m=0
- IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.3. www.iucnredlist.org.
- Zipcode Zoo: http://zipcodezoo.com/key/Animalia/Terpsiphone_Genus.asp#cite_note-HBW-0
- Header and inset photos by Steve Garvie