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Old World Flycatchers: Muscicapidae

Behavior And Reproduction

Many Old World flycatchers hunt for food by sitting on a high perch and waiting for insects to fly by, then they swoop down and eat them in flight. Others find insects on leaves, bark, branches, and even spider webs. Some even dive to the forest floor to pick up spiders.

These birds defend their nests during mating season by singing and fighting with other birds of their species. They build cup-shaped nests, made of grass and bark, in small openings in trees, stumps, and rock ledges, or in the forks of tree branches. Females lay two to seven spotted or speckled eggs. Both parents of some species build the nest, whereas only the female does the nest building in other species. Both parents feed hatchlings and young birds after they leave the nest. In some species such as the African flycatcher, young birds from a previous mating help feed the newly hatched young.

Tropical and subtropical species of Old World flycatchers remain in their territories permanently, though they may move to a different altitude during the year. Northern species breed in the temperate, not too hot or too cold, and sub-arctic areas and then move to the warmer tropic or subtropical regions in the winter. Old World flycatchers are strong fliers and are capable of traveling long distances.

These birds are rather shy and stay within their family groupings of a mate and immature offspring.


Spotted flycatchers are very skilled at identifying their own eggs and will remove or ignore eggs placed in their nests by opportunistic birds, such as the common cuckoo or the cowbird. Opportunistic birds are birds that put their eggs in other birds' nests for them to raise. This egg recognition skill is the result of past exploitation by the cuckoo.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsOld World Flycatchers: Muscicapidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Conservation Status, Spotted Flycatcher (muscicapa Striata): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS AND PEOPLE