The male semi-collared flycatcher is a small, pied bird, with a glossy black head, back, tail and upperwing, a grey rump, and a white forehead, throat and underparts. The flight feathers are blackish-brown, with white markings. In non-breeding plumage, the male is a more grey-brown colour, with creamy-buff underparts (2) (3). The legs and beak are black (2), and, as in all Old World flycatchers, the beak is fairly broad and flat (4). The female semi-collared flycatcher is a much more drab bird, with greyish-brown upperparts, a paler rump, a dark brown tail and flight feathers, a creamy-coloured forehead, and whitish underparts, sometimes tinged brown. The upper part of the wing usually bears a pale bar, and the flight feathers may have creamy or whitish edges. In non-breeding plumage, the female has a browner forehead and more buffy-brown underparts. The juvenile resembles the adult female, but is browner, with more white on the wings (2). The song of the semi-collared flycatcher is a short phrase of thin, high-pitched notes, and other calls include a zrr contact call and dry, hard contact-alarm calls (2).
Somewhat difficult to distinguish from the closely related pied flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) and collared flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis), the male semi-collared flycatcher can be told apart, in breeding plumage, by the incomplete white collar on the neck, the presence of an extra white bar on the upper part of the wing, and by the slightly different song (2) (3). The female and juvenile, and non-breeding male, can be almost indistinguishable from the other two species (2) (3), with the female’s main discernable characteristic being the pale bar on the upper part of the wing (2).
- Also known as
- eastern collared flycatcher, half-collared flycatcher, semicollared flycatcher.
- Gobemouche à demi-collier.
- Length: 13 cm (2)
- 8 - 17.2 g (2)
Semi-collared flycatcher biology
The semi-collared flycatcher feeds mainly on flying insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddis flies, ants and beetles, and also takes caterpillars, spiders and snails. Most hunting takes place in the air, with the flycatcher frequently darting out from a perch in a tree or bush to catch passing insects. Prey may also be taken directly from leaves or branches. Less is known about the species’ feeding habits in its winter quarters, where it is often seen in mixed-species foraging flocks (2).
The semi-collared flycatcher breeds between April and September (2) (6). The nest is built in a tree hollow, often a woodpecker hole, and is cup-shaped, built from dry leaves, dead plant stems, moss and lichens, and lined with grass, fine roots, bark fibres, and sometimes hair or feathers (2) (5). Four to seven eggs are laid, which hatch after an incubation period of 13 to 14 days. Nest-building and incubation are performed by the female, but both the male and female may help feed the young, which fledge after 14 to 17 days. The semi-collared flycatcher is thought to be mainly monogamous, but, as in the pied and collared flycatchers, may also practice polygyny, with the male mating with two or three females. The females may occupy different territories, each of which the male defends against intruders (2) (4). The male may sometimes abandon a female and instead spend all his time helping another rear the chicks (4).
Semi-collared flycatcher range
The semi-collared flycatcher breeds in southeastern Europe and the Middle East, particularly in Iran. The winter is spent up to 3,750 miles away in East Africa, from southern Sudan, through western Uganda, eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, and western Tanzania (2) (5) (6).
Semi-collared flycatcher habitat
In its breeding range, the semi-collared flycatcher typically inhabits open deciduous forest, particularly on mountain slopes, up to elevations of around 2,000 metres. In some areas it also uses deciduous riverine forest, gardens, and orchards, and may also use spruce forest. In its wintering areas, the semi-collared flycatcher inhabits evergreen forest, riverine forest, forest edges, light woodland and gardens, and during migration may also be found in acacia savanna/woodland (2) (5).
Semi-collared flycatcher status
Classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Semi-collared flycatcher threats
The semi-collared flycatcher is under threat from habitat destruction in parts of its breeding range. For example, in Bulgaria its preferred habitat of lowland oak forest has been overexploited for timber, and riverine forests have been cleared as part of riverbed alterations. In eastern Turkey, dam projects also threaten its riverine forest habitat, and the loss of oak forest in other areas may also be negatively affecting the species. As a result, the semi-collared flycatcher is believed to be undergoing a fairly rapid population decline. However, the species is relatively poorly studied, and more information is needed on its population trends outside the European breeding range (5).
The semi-collared flycatcher is listed on Appendix II of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention), which aims to conserve migratory species throughout their range (7). It also appears on Annex I of the EC Birds Directive, which provides a framework for conservation and management of wild bird species in Europe (8). Specific conservation measures proposed for the semi-collared flycatcher include the development of a Species Action Plan, as well as monitoring programmes to assess population trends, and further assessment of the threats faced by the species (5).
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- Deciduous forest
- Forest consisting mainly of deciduous trees, which shed their leaves at the end of the growing season.
- Evergreen forest
- Forest consisting mainly of evergreen trees, which retain leaves all year round.
- Flight feathers
- The feathers at the end of the wing, involved in flight.
- The act of incubating eggs, that is, keeping them warm so that development is possible.
- A composite organism made up of a fungus in a co-operative partnership with an alga. Owing to this partnership, lichens can thrive in harsh environments such as mountaintops and polar regions. Characteristically forms a crustlike or branching growth on rocks or tree trunks.
- Having only one mate during a breeding season, or throughout the breeding life of a pair.
- In animals, a pattern of mating in which a male has more than one female partner.
- An area occupied and defended by an animal, a pair of animals or a colony.
IUCN Red List (March, 2009)
del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A. and Sargatal, J. (2006) Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 11: Old World Flycatchers to Old World Warblers. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona.
Peterson, R.T., Mountfort, G. and Hollom, P.A.D. (1993) Collins Field Guide: Birds of Britain and Europe. HarperCollins Publishers, London.
Burton, M. and Burton, R. (2002) International Wildlife Encyclopedia. Third Edition. Marshall Cavendish, New York.
BirdLife International (March, 2009)
Elphick, J. (2007) The Atlas of Bird Migration. Struik, Cape Town.
Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (March, 2009)
EC Birds Directive (March, 2009)
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