A charming and easily recognizable bird that distinguishes itself by the absence of the long tail streamers found in certain paradise-flycatchers.
Meet the Mascarene flycatcher:
Description: The Mascarene paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone bourbonnensis) belongs to the monarch-flycatcher family which differs from many members of the Terpsiphone genus, known for their long tails. It measures between 15 to 20 cm (5.9–7.9 inches) in length. The male sports a black head with a grey neck-band, throat, breast, and belly. Its upperparts and tail exhibit a chestnut hue, with black-tipped wings. Bright blue is the color of its bill, while its legs are greyish.
The female, smaller than the male, has a paler bill and a dark-grey head. The subspecies T. b. desolata is larger than the nominate subspecies and features brighter plumage.
This bird is native to the Mascarene islands of Mauritius and Réunion. This bird species is divided into two recognized subspecies: the nominate subspecies, also known as the Réunion paradise flycatcher, hails from Réunion, while the subspecies T. b. desolata (Salomonsen, 1933) is found in Mauritius. The Mascarene paradise flycatcher was initially classified within the Muscicapa genus, and the subspecies T. b. desolata was originally considered a separate species.
Photo courtesy of Charles J. Sharp/CC BY-SA 4.0
Habitat: The habitat preferences of this species vary by subspecies. T. b. desolata is primarily confined to native evergreen forests and some plantations of Araucaria cunninghamii and A. columnaris. It seems to favor a closed canopy environment with calm air and not too much undergrowth. The nominate subspecies on Réunion occupies a broader range of forested habitats, from sea level to elevations of 500–600 meters (1,600–2,000 feet).
Behavior Diet and Feeding: The Mascarene paradise flycatcher’s diet consists of various insects, including beetles, flies, dragonflies, moths, grasshoppers, and mayflies. It hunts for prey by perching and then capturing it in the air or by sally-gleaning off vegetation. Additionally, it may glean insects directly from perches. While it usually forages alone, there are instances where it joins flocks of white-eyes, with this behavior being more common on Réunion than Mauritius.
Breeding: Breeding occurs seasonally, from August to February on Mauritius and September to December on Réunion. The nest is a cone-shaped cup made of moss, lichen, and spiderweb. The female lays two to three creamy or pink-white eggs with rusty spots, and both parents take turns incubating them for 14–16 days. After hatching, chicks are fed for five weeks and remain in their parent’s territory for an additional 8–9 weeks following fledging.
This bird is regarded as of Least Concern on the IUCN Red List.