Satin Flycatcher

Quick Facts

Length: 16 cm
Height: -
Weight: -
Colour: Glossy blue-black above and chest and white below
Habitat: Tall forests preferring wetter habitats such as heavily forested gullies but not rainforests
Food: Insects caught on the wing
Predators: -
Status: Not Present in NT. Rare in SA. Secure in other states and territories in Australia
Satin Flycatcher

The Satin Flycatcher is a small blue-black and white bird with a small crest. The sexes are dimorphic (have two forms). Males are glossy blue-black above, with a blue-black chest and white below, while females are duskier blue-black above, with a orange-red chin, throat and breast, and white underparts and pale-edged wing and tail feathers. Young birds are dark brown-grey above, with pale streaks and buff edges to the wing feathers, and a mottled brown-orange throat and chest. It has sometimes been called the Shining Flycatcher, but this is the common name of another species, M. alecto. It is an active, mobile species

The Leaden Flycatcher is very similar, with males less glossy about the head and throat and the females and juveniles generally lighter blue-grey above. Both sexes of the Broad-billed Flycatcher are also similar, but lighter in colouring, and have a broader, boat-shaped bill; also, this species only overlaps in range with the Satin Flycatcher in far northern Queensland.

The Satin Flycatcher is found along the east coast of Australia from far northern Queensland to Tasmania, including south-eastern South Australia. It is also found in New Guinea. The Satin Flycatcher is not a commonly seen species, especially in the far south of its range, where it is a summer breeding migrant.

The Satin Flycatcher is found in tall forests, preferring wetter habitats such as heavily forested gullies, but not rainforests.

The Satin Flycatcher is a migratory species, moving northwards in winter to northern Queensland and Papua New Guinea, returning south to breed in spring.

The Satin Flycatcher takes insects on the wing, foraging actively from perches in the mid to upper canopy. After the breeding season, it may forage in loose groups, usually of adults and their newly-fledged young, in drier, more open forests.

The Satin Flycatcher nests in loose colonies of two to five pairs nesting at intervals of about 20 m - 50 m apart. It builds a broad-based, cup-shaped nest of shredded bark and grass, coated with spider webs and decorated with lichen. The nest is placed on a bare, horizontal branch, with overhanging foliage, about 3 m - 25 m above the ground. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young. Nests may be parasitised by the Brush Cuckoo and, sometimes, the Pallid Cuckoo, Horsfield's Bronze-Cuckoo or the Golden Bronze-Cuckoo.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Wednesday 8th January, 2014
BirdLife Australia -


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