Sapphire Flycatcher    Ficedula sapphira 

Etymology :

  • Ficedula : Latin word ficedula –small fig-eating bird
  • Sapphira : Latin word sapphirus  – sapphire


Distribution in India: Resident of East Himalayas &  North East India .

Description: Size of 10–12 cm; 7–8 g. It is a small, delicate, slim and small-billed flycatcher. The male in breeding has bright ultramarine-blue forehead, crown, rump and uppertail-coverts, and deeper blue on rest of upperparts, including upperwing (blackish, but broadly edged blue), tail and face (except black lores), sides of throat and breast-sides. The chin to centre of breast is orange, belly to undertail-coverts are white; iris is dark brown; bill is black; legs are bluish grey. The non-breeding male has forehead to crown and mantle, face and sides of breast as brown, rest of upperparts are blue, orange on chin to centre of breast; may have light rufous colour on forecrown and eyering. The female has olive-brown upperparts, becoming warmer brown on rump and rufous-brown on uppertail-coverts and tail, light rufous edges of tertials and flight-feathers, buffish lores and rufous-buff eyering, with chin, throat to centre of breast as orange, breast-sides are brownish, flanks are buffish and belly to undertail-coverts are white. The juvenile has head and upperparts mostly brown, heavily spotted with orange-buff, underparts similar but orange-buff spots on breast fringed darker and contrast with whitish belly to vent, wings rufous-brown, tail is brown (female) or bluish (male). The first-year male is like non-breeding adult, but duller greyish-blue upperparts, dark brown wings with buffish edges, and dull rufous on throat and breast.

Habitat: It is found in evergreen broadleaf hill and montane forests. It breeds at 2100–2800 m in Himalayas. In winter it is found at lower levels in similar habitats or in more open woodland, including edges of cultivation and large gardens, below 800 m .

Food habits: It eats small invertebrates and larvae. It is usually solitary or in pairs, but joins mixed-species flocks in winter. It is active, tame and approachable. It forages in tall undergrowth and within canopy of lower levels of forest trees. It makes occasional aerial sallies for insects. It often flicks tail and wings.

Breeding habits: They breed in Apr to Jun. The nest is a large cup-shaped structure of moss, plant fibres, lichens, fern stems and a few feathers, placed in depression in steep bank or in hole in tree or stump. They lay a clutch 4 eggs. The incubation is done by both sexes.