Nimba flycatcher (Melaenornis annamarulae)

Nimba flycatcher on branch
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Nimba flycatcher fact file

Nimba flycatcher description

GenusMelaenornis (1)

A glimpse of black in the canopy may suggest that the Nimba flycatcher (Melaenornis annamarulae) is a rather dull coloured bird. However, in full sunlight deep blue undertones are revealed in its plumage (3). The Nimba flycatcher is slightly paler on the throat, flanks and underparts and its irises are dark brown. Its feet and beak are black (2).

For the most part the Nimba flycatcher is silent, but when it sings it does so loudly, giving five to seven sonorous notes which can be heard in multiple variations. It also occasionally makes softer ‘wheep wheep’ noises and a faint ‘churring’ sound (2).

Also known as
Liberian black-flycatcher, West African black-flycatcher.
Gobemouche noir du Nimba.
Length: 20 - 22 cm (2)
37 - 42 g (2)

Nimba flycatcher biology

As the name flycatcher suggests, the Nimba flycatcher is insectivorous. Its prey ranges from small beetles and caterpillars to social insects such as ants, which make up a large proportion of its diet (2).

The Nimba flycatcher lives in pairs or in groups of three to six individuals. It lives in the canopy up to 50 metres above the ground, rarely being found below 20 metres. The group moves slowly through the canopy, spending a lot of time perched motionless in-between foraging, and typically remains in one location for a few days before moving on (2).

Hunting comprises infrequent flights, in which the flycatcher dives below its perch to ambush prey, or flies in an upward rally, rapidly seizing insects on the undersides of leaves and branches. In addition, the Nimba flycatcher will seek out insects in mossy fissures and cracks, running with its head low and grabbing prey as it moves (2).

Not much is known about the breeding behaviour of this rare bird. However, the female has been observed with enlarged ovaries around July to August in Liberia (2).


Nimba flycatcher range

The Nimba flycatcher occurs in Western Africa, from south-east Guinea through Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire to Ghana (2) (3).


Nimba flycatcher habitat

The Nimba flycatcher lives mainly in the highest parts of the tallest trees in lowland primary rainforest, where it relies on trees that emerge from the top of the canopy for hunting. The Nimba flycatcher has also been recorded in areas cleared for maize plantations, as well as in large, leafless trees on granite outcrops in the Côte d'Ivoire (3) (2).


Nimba flycatcher status

The Nimba flycatcher is classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable


Nimba flycatcher threats

A reliance on primary rainforest with emergent trees means the Nimba flycatcher is highly susceptible to the forest degradation commonly encountered in West Africa (2). Logging, mining and agricultural expansion have all played a part in the destruction of this species’ habitat, and the remaining patches of forest continue to face pressure from these activities (2) (3).


Nimba flycatcher conservation

The Nimba flycatcher occurs in a number of protected areas throughout its range, including Gola Forest Reserve in Sierra Leone and Taï National Park in south-west Côte d'Ivoire (3). However, even protected areas are not safe from habitat destruction. Déré Forest Reserve in Guinea is threatened by clearance for farms, while parts of Atewa Range Forest Reserve in Ghana have been cut for mineral exploration. Bauxite mining is now also being considered there (3).

Further conservation actions have been proposed for the Nimba flycatcher, including better protection of the forest reserves in which it occurs. Undertaking further studies on this species, particularly on its breeding biology, will help inform any specific conservation measures undertaken for the Nimba flycatcher in the future (3).


Find out more

More information on the Nimba flycatcher:



This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

This species information was authored as part of the ARKive and Universities Scheme.


Feeds primarily on insects.
Primary rainforest
Rainforest that has remained undisturbed for a long time and has reached a mature condition.


  1. IUCN Red List (November, 2010)
  2. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Christie, D. (2005) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 10: Cuckoo-Shrikes to Thrushes. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  3. BirdLife International (November, 2010)

Image credit

Nimba flycatcher on branch  
Nimba flycatcher on branch

© Nik Borrow

Nik Borrow


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