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Spotted flycatcher (M. striata)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Muscicapidae
Subfamily: Muscicapinae
Genus: Muscicapa
Brisson, 1760

see text

Muscicapa is a genus of passerine birds belonging to the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae, and therein to the typical flycatchers of subfamily Muscicapinae. They are widespread across Europe, Africa and Asia with most species occurring in forest and woodland habitats. Several species are migratory, moving south from Europe and northern Asia for the winter.[1]

They are small birds, 9 to 15 centimetres in length. They have a large head, short tail and a flattened bill, broader at the base. Their plumage is mostly drab brown or grey and rather plain. Young birds tend to be more spotted or mottled.[1]

Muscicapa flycatchers typically feed on flying insects which are caught by sallying out from an exposed perch. The nest is usually cup-shaped and built on a tree branch but some African species nest in tree holes.[1]


The genus was introduced by the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson in 1760.[2] The word Muscicapa comes from the Latin musca meaning a fly and capere to catch.[3]

In 2010 two large molecular phylogenetic studies of species within Muscicapidae showed that Muscicapa was non-monophyletic. The authors were unable to propose a revised genus as not all the species were sampled.[4][5] A subsequent study published in 2016, that included 37 of the 42 Muscicapini species, confirmed that Muscicapa was non-monophyletic and proposed a reorganised arrangement with several new or resurrected genera.[6]


There are 26 species of Muscicapa flycatchers.[7]

Fossil record[edit]

Muscicapa miklosi (Late Miocene of Polgardi, Hungary)[11]

Muscicapa petenyii (Pliocene of Beremend, Hungary)[12]


  1. ^ a b c Sinclair et al. (2003), Perrins (2004), del Hoyo et al. (2006)
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie; ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, espéces & leurs variétés. &c. (in Latin and French). Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. Vol. 1 p. 32, Vol. 2 p. 357. 
  3. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. p. 260. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4. 
  4. ^ Sangster, G.; Alström, P.; Forsmark, E.; Olsson, U. (2010). "Multi-locus phylogenetic analysis of Old World chats and flycatchers reveals extensive paraphyly at family, subfamily and genus level (Aves: Muscicapidae)". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 57 (1): 380–392. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.07.008. 
  5. ^ Zuccon, D.; Ericson, P.G.P. (2010). "A multi-gene phylogeny disentangles the chat-flycatcher complex (Aves: Muscicapidae)". Zoologica Scripta 39 (3): 213–224. doi:10.1111/j.1463-6409.2010.00423.x. 
  6. ^ Voelker, G.; Huntley, J.W.; Peñalba, J.V.; Bowie, R.C.K. (2016). "Resolving taxonomic uncertainty and historical biogeographic patterns in Muscicapa flycatchers and their allies". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 94: 618–625. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2015.09.026. 
  7. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2016). "Chats, Old World flycatchers". World Bird List Version 6.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 20 May 2016. 
  8. ^ Mlíkovský, J. (2012). "Correct name for the Asian Brown Flycatcher (Aves:Muscicapidae, Muscicapa)". Zootaxa 3393: 53–56. 
  9. ^ Dickinson, E.C.; et al. (2014). "Correcting the "correct" name for the Asian Brown Flycatcher (Aves: Passeriformes, Muscicapidae, Muscicapa)". Zootaxa 3869 (3): 343–347. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.3869.3.8. 
  10. ^ Hooper, D.M.; Olsson, U.; Alström, Per (2016). "The Rusty-tailed Flycatcher (Muscicapa ruficauda; Aves: Muscicapidae) is a member of the genus Ficedula". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 102: 56–61. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2016.05.036. 
  11. ^ Kessler, E. 2013. Neogene songbirds (Aves, Passeriformes) from Hungary. – Hantkeniana, Budapest, 2013, 8: 37-149.
  12. ^ Kessler, E. 2013. Neogene songbirds (Aves, Passeriformes) from Hungary. – Hantkeniana, Budapest, 2013, 8: 37-149.

Further reading[edit]