Black-and-orange flycatcher

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Black-and-orange flycatcher
Black and Orange Flycatcher.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Genus: Ficedula
F. nigrorufa
Binomial name
Ficedula nigrorufa
(Jerdon, 1839)
Ficedula nigrorufa map.png

Ochromela nigrorufa
Muscicapa nigrorufa

The black-and-orange flycatcher or black-and-rufous flycatcher (Ficedula nigrorufa) is a species of flycatcher endemic to the central and southern Western Ghats, the Nilgiris and Palni hill ranges in southern India. It is unique among the Ficedula flycatchers in having rufous coloration on its back and prior to molecular studies was suggested to be related to the chats and thrushes.[2]


A pair, female left and male right

A distinctly coloured bird found mainly in the high-elevation areas of the Western Ghats, the Nilgiris, the Palnis and associated hill ranges. The male is distinctly black headed with black wings. The female has the black replaced by dark brown and has a light eye-ring. They are usually seen singly or in pairs.[3][4]

The young bird at around two weeks of age is brownish orange with a whitish vent and abdomen. The head has dark streaks and the wings appear bluish with a trace of brown. There is a pale ring around the eye and the orange tail appears stumpy. Eight weeks after fledging they appear almost like adults except for patches of brown feathers in the crown.[5]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The main population of this bird is found in the high elevation plateaus (above 1500m) areas of the Nilgiris, Palani Hills, Biligirirangans (Bellaji and Honnametti) and Kannan Devan Hills. They prefer areas with high leaf litter and undergrowth in open shola grassland habitats. The density was about 2.8 ha per pair during the breeding season. It is a highly parochial bird and no local movements other than dispersal of young has been noted.[6] To the north, it occurs in the Kudremukh National Park and the Bababudan Hills and south to the Ashambu Hills.[7] Some old records of the species from Maharashtra and Sri Lanka[8] have been considered dubious.[3][6]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]


Ficedula hodgsonii


Ficedula sapphira

Ficedula erithacus


Ficedula nigrorufa

Ficedula tricolor

Nearest relatives based on Outlaw & Voelker (2006)

In the breeding season, March to May, these birds are very vocal and they have a repetitive "chee-ri-rirr" or a whistling song "whee-chee-ree-rirr". They feed on insects by flycatching low over the ground (under 2m height[9]) and also pick insects from the ground.[6] Territories are maintained by a pair throughout the year. The threat display involves the male pointing bill up, fanning the tail, opening wings and producing "keet-keet" notes. The alarm call is a zit-zit. Males are usually involved in defense but females may sometimes join in.[10] The nest is built by the female, placed in a low bush or fern. Two greyish speckled eggs form the usual clutch. Young birds are brownish and speckled.[3] The nest is unlike that of most flycatchers and is large, coarse, ball-like and made from sedges. The nest has a foundation of dry leaves and ferns. The nest has an external diameter of about 6 inches (15 cm) and the egg cavity which is devoid of any lining is about 2 inches (5.1 cm) in diameter and 2 inches (5.1 cm) deep. The nest is placed usually at the centre of a bush at about 1 to 3 feet (0.30 to 0.91 m) height with an entrance hole close to the top.[11][12]

The peak feeding activity of the birds is early in the morning and towards dusk. During these period they capture as many as 100 insects an hour whereas at mid-day they are half as efficient.[6]

The black-and-orange flycatcher along with the rufous-chested flycatcher (Ficedula dumetoria) are the only sedentary species within the genus Ficedula and lack the longer and more pointed wing morphology of the long distant migrant members.[13]


  1. ^ BirdLife International. 2017. Ficedula nigrorufa. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T22709415A118488735. Downloaded on 01 January 2019.
  2. ^ Outlaw, D.C.; Voelker, G. (Oct 2006). "Systematics of Ficedula flycatchers (Muscicapidae): A molecular reassessment of a taxonomic enigma" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 41 (1): 118–126. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.05.004. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 16797192. Archived from the original (PDF) on 29 September 2007.
  3. ^ a b c Ali, S & S D Ripley (1996). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. 7 (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. pp. 174–175.
  4. ^ Baker, ECS (1924). Fauna of British India. Birds. 2 (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 253–254.
  5. ^ Khan, MAR (1979). "Field characters and juvenile plumage of Muscicapa nigrorufa (Jerdon)". Bangladesh J. Zool. 7 (2): 109–112.
  6. ^ a b c d Khan,Mohammad Ali Reza (1978). "Ecology of the Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Muscicapa nigrorufa (Jerdon) in Southern India". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 75 (3): 773–791.
  7. ^ Praveen J & Giby Kuriakose (2006). "A review of the northern distribution range of near-threatened Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Ficedula nigrorufa in the Western Ghats" (PDF). Zoos' Print Journal. 21 (12): 2516–2517. doi:10.11609/jott.zpj.1609.2516-7.
  8. ^ Layard, EL (1873). "Notes on Mr E W H Holdsworth's catalogue of Ceylon birds". Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London: 203–205.
  9. ^ Somasundaram S & L Vijayan (2008). "Foraging Behaviour and Guild Structure of Birds in the Montane Wet Temperate Forest of the Palni Hills, South India". Podoces. 3 (1/2): 79–91.
  10. ^ Khan, M.A.R. (1980). "Territorial behaviour of the black-and-orange flycatcher Muscicapa nigrorufa (Jerdon) in southern India". Bangladesh J. Zool. 8 (2): 89–97.
  11. ^ Hume, A. O. (1890). The nests and eggs of Indian Birds. 2. R H Porter, London. pp. 14–16.
  12. ^ Morgan, Rhodes W (1875). "On the nidification of certain South-Indian birds". Ibis. 5 (19): 313–323. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1875.tb05973.x.
  13. ^ Outlaw, Diana (2011). "Morphological evolution of some migratory Ficedula flycatchers". Contributions to Zoology. 80 (4): 279–284.

Further reading[edit]

  • Khan, M.A.R. (1977) Ecology and Behaviour of the Black-and-Orange Flycatcher Muscicapa nigrorufa. Ph.D. Thesis, Bombay University, Bombay.