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What is a Paradise Flycatcher?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 15 November 2016
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A paradise flycatcher is an insectivorous passerine bird in the genus Tersiphone. Representatives of this genus can be found in many tropical and subtropical regions of the world, with some areas hosting genetically unique and very rare flycatcher populations. Visitors to the tropics often enjoy seeing paradise flycatchers, because many of the birds are quite beautiful, and they are also interesting to observe while they are on the hunt for food.

Passerine birds are birds which have feet designed for perching, with three forward facing toes and one toe facing the other way. Like many passerine birds, a paradise flycatcher is also capable of producing birdsong, with the calls of flycatchers being quite diverse. Some of these birds are quite shrill and very loud, making them easy to find in the jungle, while others are more subdued.

The coloring of a paradise flycatcher is often quite lavish, with many birds having long, flowing tails. As is the case with many birds, the paradise flycatcher is typically sexually dimorphic, meaning that male and female birds look different. Classically, females tend to have less radiant coloring, and their tails may be shorter. Many paradise flycatcher species also boast striking crests, which can be erected for various displays.

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The birds build cup-shaped nests in the elbows of trees, working together to raise their young until the chicks are mature enough to strike out on their own. These birds prefer to catch their prey on the wing, explaining the “flycatcher” in their common name; like hawks and other birds of prey, the paradise flycatcher has extremely good eyesight and very fast reflexes. The birds are especially active at dawn and dusk, zooming around the landscape to capture insects of interest.

Unfortunately for the paradise flycatcher, these birds have historically been hunted for their brilliant plumage. Although hunting is outlawed in some regions, some populations have yet to recover, raising concerns that several species could be threatened with extinction. This is an especially large concern for flycatcher populations which live on islands, as they are often genetically unique, and the loss of such populations would be quite sad.

Conservation parks in some tropical areas have captured paradise flycatchers for the purpose of establishing breeding programs, and these parks also offer education to the public, encouraging people to help preserve the birds. The rise of ecotourism has also helped to protect paradise flycatcher populations, by creating a market for their natural habitat.

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