African Paradise Flycatcher Fact File

Terpsiphone viridis

Credit: Hannah Rooke, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 9 years

Captive 9 years




Conservation Status


Least Concern

The African paradise flycatcher is a species of bird found across Africa. They perform a yearly migration and move between the area around the equator and southern Africa at regular intervals.

These birds may be tiny but the males length is almost doubled by his spectacular tail plumes. Both males and females feature similar bright coloration though many regional variations in color are seen.

African paradise flycatchers are insectivores and almost exclusively eat insects though some have been observed eating berries.

Their populations are considered stable and no major threats to their survival are listed.

Read on to learn more about these beautiful birds.


What does the African paradise flycatcher look like?

African paradise flycatchers are colored greyish on the upper body with a crest of feathers on top of the head. Across the back and wings along with the tail plumes their feathers are rufous. A white form exists which has white tail plumes.

This species will exhibit sexual dimorphism with the hen lacking the long tail streamers present in the male. Their bill is a pale blue.

Males sport long plumes at the end of the body which grow up to 30cm (12in) long.

An average African paradise flycatcher measures 20cm (8in) long excluding the males tail plumes. Their weight is between 12 and 14g (0.4-0.5oz) with males being slightly larger than females.


What does the African paradise flycatcher eat?

African paradise flycatchers are carnivores which feed on invertebrates. Rarely they are recorded to eat small berries.

Most of their prey is caught while in flight but they may take them off leaves and branches.

African paradise flycatcher

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the African paradise flycatcher?

African is the native home of the African paradise flycatcher where they occur in most areas south of the Sahara desert.

They can be found in the following countries - Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; The Democratic Republic of the Congo; Côte d'Ivoire; Djibouti; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Oman; Rwanda; Saudi Arabia; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Sudan; Tanzania, United Republic of; Togo; Uganda; Yemen; Zambia and Zimbabwe.


What kind of environment does the African paradise flycatcher live in?

African paradise flycatchers make their home in forest, savanna and shrubland habitats.

These animals have benefited from the planting of trees which have expanded their available habitat. They may build their nest near a building.

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How does the African paradise flycatcher produce its young?

Pairs of the African paradise flycatcher are considered monogamous though this bond may only last for a single breeding season.

Their cup-shaped nest is formed out of vegetation and spiderwebs. It will then be disguised through the addition of lichen to disguise it and lined with dry grass or hair. In to this they lay 1-4 eggs which are cream colored with reddish spots.

Males work to defend their nest against intruders.

Both the male and female participate in building the nest and then incubating the eggs over 13 days. Young fledge after just 11 days.

Over the summer they may produce two or even three clutches.

Some of the cuckoo species will lay their eggs in the nest of an African paradise flycatcher who will then raise them. In doing so they eject the eggs of the flycatcher.

Hybrids of this species have been produced with the red-billed paradise flycatcher.


What does the African paradise flycatcher do with its day?

These animals undertake seasonal migrations. They will spend April to September near the equator before moving to southern areas of their range for the rest of the year.

After the breeding season the males moult their long tail plumes.

African paradise flycatchers are noisy birds. They produce a range of calls with variations in these across their range.

African paradise flycatcher

Credit: Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the African paradise flycatcher?

African paradise flycatchers are considered to have a stable population. No major threats to their ongoing survival have been identified.

Quick facts

These birds are also known as the grey-headed paradise flycatcher, red-winged paradise flycatcher or southern paradise flycatcher.

African paradise flycatcher

Credit: Dominik Angstwurm, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

BirdLife International. 2016. Terpsiphone viridisThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22707108A94107090. Downloaded on 23 September 2021. 2021. Terpsiphone viridis (African paradise-flycatcher). [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2021]. 2021. African Paradise-Flycatcher. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2021].

Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve. 2021. Wild Facts Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve | African Paradise Flycatcher. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2021]. 2021. African paradise flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis) - JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2021]. 2016. How long can an African Paradise Flycatcher live? Nairobi ringing group will tell you… – Nature Kenya. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 24 September 2021].

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