Old World flycatcher

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For other uses of the term flycatcher, see Flycatcher (disambiguation).
Old World flycatchers
White-eyed slaty flycatcher.jpg
White-eyed slaty flycatcher,
Melaenornis fischeri
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Suborder: Passeri
Family: Muscicapidae
Vigors, 1825

See text

The Old World flycatchers are a large family, the Muscicapidae, of small passerine birds mostly restricted to the Old World (Europe, Africa and Asia). These are mainly small arboreal insectivores, many of which, as the name implies, take their prey on the wing.


The appearance of these birds is very varied, but they mostly have weak songs and harsh calls. They are small to medium birds, ranging from 9 to 22 cm in length.[1] Many species are dull brown in colour, but the plumage of some can be much brighter, especially in the males.[2] Most have broad, flattened bills suited to catching insects in flight, although the few ground-foraging species typically have finer bills.[3]

Old World flycatchers live in almost every environment with a suitable supply of trees, from dense forest to open scrub, and even the montane woodland of the Himalayas. The more northerly species migrate south in winter, ensuring a continuous diet of insects.[3]

Depending on the species, their nests are either well-constructed cups placed in a tree or cliff ledge, or simply lining in a pre-existing tree hole. The hole-nesting species tend to lay larger clutches, with an average of eight eggs, rather than just two to five.[3]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The division of Muscicapidae into two subfamilies may be artificial. Some genera in one subfamily are closer to members of the other and vice versa. As the exact relationships of the family's members are worked out, the internal taxonomic structure of the family may need to be radically revised.

Muscicapidae in taxonomic order[edit]

This list of muscicapid species is presented in taxonomic order:

Family Muscicapidae


  1. ^ del Hoyo, J.; Elliot, A. & Christie D. (editors). (2006). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions. ISBN 84-96553-06-X.
  2. ^ "Old World Flycatchers Muscicapidae". artfullbirds.com. Retrieved June 3, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c Perrins, C. (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 194–195. ISBN 1-85391-186-0. 

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