Pacific royal flycatcher (Onychorhynchus occidentalis)

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Male Pacific royal flycatcher with crest raised
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Pacific royal flycatcher fact file

Pacific royal flycatcher description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassAves
OrderPasseriformes
FamilyTyrannidae
GenusOnychorhynchus (1)

Like the other royal flycatchers of the neotropics, this species has a large, brilliantly-coloured, fan-shaped crest, which is usually flat but occasionally erected to reveal its dazzling scarlet colour (yellow in the female) ornately decorated with black and steel-blue markings (2) (3) (4). The rest of the plumage is rather unspectacular in comparison, being uniformly tawny-brown on upperparts, dull yellow-orange on underparts, rufous on the rump and tail and whitish on the throat (2) (3).

Synonyms
Onychorhynchus coronatus occidentalis.
Size
Size: 16 – 16.5 cm (2)
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Pacific royal flycatcher biology

As with other royal flycatchers, the Pacific royal flycatcher is thought to feed on insects, particularly large flying insects such as dragonflies, which are snapped up in flight or gleaned from foliage (3). Although usually solitary or in pairs (5), these birds have also frequently been observed in small, mixed-species flocks (2).

Nests are typically suspended from overhanging branches and vines above shady streams, and have been found between January and April, with a juvenile collected in May (2) (5). The territory is defended by the male while the female incubates the eggs and tends to the chicks (3). During display, performed during courtship and aggressive encounters, the crest is erected and fully spread, while the head is rhythmically swayed from side to side and the bill is slowly opened and closed to reveal a bright mouth lining (3) (4).

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Pacific royal flycatcher range

Restricted to small, isolated forest patches in west Ecuador (from Esmeraldas south to El Oro) and immediately adjacent extreme north-west Peru (Tumbes) (2) (3).

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Pacific royal flycatcher habitat

Recorded from both primary and secondary degraded humid and deciduous lowland forest up to 1,200 m, though intact, moister forest is thought to be relied on during the breeding season (2) (3).

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Pacific royal flycatcher status

Classified as Vulnerable (VU) on the IUCN Red List 2006 (1).

IUCN Red List species status – Vulnerable

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Pacific royal flycatcher threats

Ongoing, rapid deforestation, particularly in lowland areas, has reduced the Pacific royal flycatcher’s now small and severely fragmented range, and will soon remove almost all unprotected forest. Meanwhile, persistent grazing by goats and cattle prevents forest regeneration. Even ‘protected areas’ are not immune to these threats, with logging continuing to occur in Cordillera de Molleturo Protection Forest, and Machalilla National Park and Tumbes Reserved Zone being affected by illegal settling and deforestation, livestock-grazing, and habitat clearance by people with land rights (2).

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Pacific royal flycatcher conservation

The Pacific royal flycatcher is known to occur in six protected areas, including Río Palenque Scientific Centre, Jauneche Biological Reserve Station, Machalilla National Park, Cerro Blanco Protection Forest and Manglares-Churute Ecological Reserve, Ecuador, and Tumbes Reserved Zone, Peru, and probably also within Cordillera de Molleturo Protection Forest, Cañar, Ecuador (2) (3). A reforestation project within the partially-forested Chongón-Colonche Protection Forest may support the species and benefit this striking bird (2) (3).

View information on this species at the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre.
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Find out more

For more information on the Pacific royal flycatcher see:

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Authentication

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:
arkive@wildscreen.org.uk

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References

  1. IUCN Red List (June, 2006)
    http://www.iucnredlist.org
  2. BirdLife International (October, 2006)
    http://www.birdlife.org/datazone/species/index.html?action=SpcHTMDetails.asp&sid=4236&m=0
  3. del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2004) Handbook of the Birds of the World - Cotingas To Pipits And Wagtails. Vol. 9. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
  4. Graves, G.R. (1990) Function of Crest Displays in Royal Flycatchers (Onychorhynchus). Condor, 92(2): 522 - 524.
  5. Whittingham, M.J. and Williams, R.S.R. (2000) Notes on morphological differences exhibited by Royal Flycatcher Onychorhynchus coronatus taxa. Cotinga, 13: 14 - 16. Available at:
    http://www.ncl.ac.uk/biology/assets/MWhitt_pdf/00RoyFly.pdf
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Image credit

Male Pacific royal flycatcher with crest raised  
Male Pacific royal flycatcher with crest raised

© Rob Pople / Project Ortalis '96

Rob Pople / Project Ortalis 1996
rob.pople@cantab.net

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