Seychelles paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone corvina)

French: Gobemouche paradis noir
GenusTerpsiphone (1)
SizeLength: 20 cm (2)

Classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List 2008 (1).

This elegant flycatcher is known in Creole as 'Vev' from the French for 'widow' owing to its all black plumage (3). The black feathers have a deep blue sheen and males have exceptionally long central tail feathers (2). The bill and facial skin are blue and both females and juveniles are lighter in colour with their creamy-white underparts and chestnut tail (2).

Endemic to the Seychelles, this species was thought to remain only on the island of La Digue (2). However, recent sightings on the islands of Marianne, Praslin and Félicité need to be further investigated to discover if they represent distinct populations or merely non-viable overspill (2).

Inhabits takamaka (Calophyllum inophyllum) and badamier (Terminalia catappa) woodland, and is particularly associated with marshy areas and water bodies (4).

Little is known about the natural ecology of this rare bird. The clutch size is normally one and breeding can occur year round, although there appears to be a peak in activity between November and April (4).

Insects such as dragonflies and mosquitoes make up the majority of the diet, and males tend to forage in the lower levels of the forest whereas females search for food in the higher, lighter levels (4).

Habitat destruction has been the major cause of the deleterious decline in paradise flycatcher numbers (2). Suitable forests on La Digue have been cleared to make way for tourist and private development (2), and for coconut plantations (3). Recently, a disease affecting takamaka trees has provided further cause for concern (2).

In 1981, a small area of mature woodland habitat was designated as a reserve, areas of standing water have been created and public awareness programmes put into action (2). The remnant populations on additional islands require further investigation as to whether they are viable (2). Encouragingly, the population on La Digue has recently shown a marked increase and may be more adaptable than was previously feared; territories have been found in woodland near to housing developments (2).

For more information on the Seychelles black paradise-flycatcher see:

Authenticated by BirdLife International Secretariat.

  1. IUCN Red List (May, 2008)
  2. BirdLife International. (2000) Threatened Birds of the World. Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, Barcelona and Cambridge.
  3. Parr, S. (2002) Cousin Island Special Reserve. Birds, 2002: 42 - 46.
  4. Collar, N.J. and Stuart, S.N. (1985) Threatened Birds of Africa and Related Islands: The ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book I. ICBP. IUCN, Cambridge, Gland.