Black-naped monarch

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Black Naped Monarch
Black Naped Monarch, Dandeli, Karnataka, India
Black-naped monarch
Hypothymis azurea - Kaeng Krachan.jpg
A male (ssp. montana) from Kaeng Krachan in Thailand.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Monarchidae
Genus: Hypothymis
Species: H. azurea
Binomial name
Hypothymis azurea
(Boddaert, 1783)

See text

Black-naped Monarch.JPG
     approximate distribution
  • Monarcha azurea
  • Muscicapa azurea

The black-naped monarch or black-naped blue flycatcher (Hypothymis azurea) is a slim and agile passerine bird belonging to the family of monarch flycatchers found in southern and south-eastern Asia. They are sexually dimorphic with males having a distinctive black patch on the back of the head and a narrow black half collar ("necklace") while the female is duller and lacks the black markings. They have a call that is similar to that of the Asian paradise flycatcher and in tropical forest habitats pairs may join mixed-species foraging flocks. Populations differ slightly in plumage colour and sizes.

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The black-naped monarch was originally described in the genus Muscicapa and some authorities have also classified it in the genus Monarcha. Alternate names for the black-naped monarch include black-naped blue monarch and black-naped monarch flycatcher. Some authorities have not yet recognized the split of two former subspecies, blasii (Banggai Island), and puella (Sulawesi), to form the pale-blue monarch (Hypothymis puella).[2]


Twenty-three subspecies are recognized:[3]

  • Indian black-naped blue monarch (H. a. styani) - (Hartlaub, 1899): Originally described as a separate species in the genus Ficedula. Found from India and Nepal to southeast China and Vietnam
  • H. a. oberholseri - Stresemann, 1913: Found in Taiwan
  • H. a. ceylonensis - Sharpe, 1879: Originally described as a separate species. Found in Sri Lanka
  • Andamanen black-naped blue monarch (H. a. tytleri) - (Beavan, 1867): Originally described as a separate species in the genus Myiagra. Found in the Andaman Islands
  • H. a. idiochroa - Oberholser, 1911: Found on Car Nicobar (northern Nicobar Islands)
  • H. a. nicobarica - Bianchi, 1907: Found on southern Nicobar Islands
  • H. a. montana - Riley, 1929: Found in northern and central Thailand
  • H. a. galerita - (Deignan, 1956), 1929: Found in southwest and southeast Thailand
  • H. a. forrestia - Oberholser, 1911: Found in Mergui Archipelago (off western Myanmar)
  • H. a. prophata - Oberholser, 1911: Found on Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and Borneo
  • H. a. javana - Chasen & Kloss, 1929: Found on Java and Bali (Indonesia)
  • H. a. penidae - Meise, 1942: Found on Nusa Penida (near Bali in the Lesser Sundas)
  • H. a. karimatensis - Chasen & Kloss, 1932: Found on Karimata Island (off western Borneo)
  • H. a. opisthocyanea - Oberholser, 1911: Found on Anambas Islands (in the South China Sea)
  • H. a. gigantoptera - Oberholser, 1911: Found on Natuna Besar (Natuna Islands, South China Sea)
  • H. a. consobrina - Richmond, 1902: Originally described as a separate species. Found on Simeulue (off north-western Sumatra)
  • H. a. leucophila - Oberholser, 1911: Found on Siberut (off western Sumatra)
  • H. a. richmondi - Oberholser, 1911: Found on Enggano Island (off south-western Sumatra)
  • H. a. abbotti - Richmond, 1902: Originally described as a separate species. Found on Reusam and Babi Islands (off north-western Sumatra)
  • H. a. symmixta - Stresemann, 1913: Found on western and central Lesser Sundas
  • Philippine black-naped monarch (H. a. azurea) - (Boddaert, 1783): Also known as the black-capped monarch and Philippine black-naped blue monarch. Found in Philippines (except Camiguin Sur Island)
  • H. a. aeria - Bangs & Peters, JL, 1927: Originally described as a separate species. Found on Maratua Island (off eastern Borneo)
  • H. a. catarmanensis - Rand & Rabor, 1969: Found on Camiguin Sur Island (southern Philippines)


At nest in Thailand

The adult male black-naped monarch is about 16 cm long, and is mainly pale azure blue apart from a whitish lower belly. It has a black nape and a narrow black gorget. The female is duller and lacks the black markings. Its wings and back are grey-brown. There are however several geographically separated breeding populations that differ in the extent and shade of markings. The Indian peninsula (includes sykesi of Stuart Baker[4]) has subspecies styani which has the black markings very distinct. Males of the Sri Lankan race H. a. ceylonensis lack the black nape and gorget and the shade is more purplish. The subspecies of the Andaman Islands, tytleri, has the underparts blue grey. The form on Car Nicobar Island idiochroa has a greyish white belly while nicobarica from the southern Nicobars has a smaller and finer bill.[5][6] The colour of the gape is yellowish to green.[7]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Black-naped Monarch (male) from Assam, India

The black-naped monarch breeds across tropical southern Asia from India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia and the Philippines. This species is usually found in thick forests and other well-wooded habitats.

The calls are a sharp and abrupt skrip.[5] The main breeding season in India is in summer from May to July. Two to three eggs are laid in a cup nest placed in the fork of a tree. The nest is decorated with spider egg-cases.[8]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

The black-naped monarch has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, like a shrike. It is insectivorous, often hunting by flycatching. When alarmed or alert, the nape feathers are raised into a pointed crest.[9] They will join mixed-species foraging flocks and are active in the understory of the canopy.[10]

Although they are largely residents, local seasonal movements are known.[11] The breeding season in India is March to August and the nest is neat cup placed in a fork. The nest is built by the female while the male guards. The typical clutch is of three eggs which both parents incubate and both feed the young which hatch after about 12 days.[9]

The webs of large spiders such as Nephila maculata have been known to trap the bird.[12]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Hypothymis azurea". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2012: e.T22707082A39421592. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2012-1.RLTS.T22707082A39421592.en. Retrieved 27 August 2016. 
  2. ^ Oberholser, Harry C (1911). "A monograph of the Flycatcher genera Hypothymis and Cyanonympha No. 1803". Proc. U. S Nat. Mus. 39: 585–615. doi:10.5479/si.00963801.1803.585. 
  3. ^ "IOC World Bird List 6.3". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/ 
  4. ^ Baker, EC Stuart (1923). A hand-list of Genera and Species of Birds of the Indian Empire. Bombay Natural History Society. 
  5. ^ a b Rasmussen, PC & JC Anderton (2005). Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution & Lynx Edicions. p. 333. 
  6. ^ Oates, EW (1890). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 2. Taylor and Francis, London. pp. 49–50. 
  7. ^ Ripley, S. D. (1944). "The Bird Fauna of the West Sumatra Islands". Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology. 94 (8): 307–430. 
  8. ^ Hume, AO (1900). The nests and eggs of Indian birds. Volume 2. R H Porter, London. pp. 27–30. 
  9. ^ a b Ali, S & S D Ripley (1996). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 7 (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 223–227. 
  10. ^ Kotagama, SW & Goodale, E (2004). "The composition and spatial organisation of mixedspecies flocks in a Sri Lankan rainforest" (PDF). Forktail. 20: 63–70. 
  11. ^ Whistler, Hugh (1949). Popular handbook of Indian Birds (4th ed.). Gurney and Jackson. pp. 133–134. 
  12. ^ Andheria,Anish P (1999). "Blacknaped Blue Flycatcher Hypothymis azurea trapped in the web of the Giant Wood Spider Nephila maculata". J. Bombay Nat. Hist. Soc. 96 (1): 145–146. 

External links[edit]

  • Photos and videos
  • Hua-Hsiang Chen (2009) A Preliminary Study on Nest Site Selection and Nest Success of the Black-naped Blue Monarch (Hypothymis azurea) in Linnei Township and Douliu hilly area, Yunlin County Thesis Taiwan. (In Chinese)