Terpsiphone paradisiAsian paradise-flycatcher

Geographic Range

Asian Paradise Flycatchers (Terpsiphone paradisi) are migratory birds native to the Oriental Region. Their range spans from the southernmost areas of Kazakhstan to the southernmost tip of India and the southeast Asian islands.They migrate as far south as Malaysia in the winter months, but spends warmer months in India and bordering countries. During their breeding season, which lasts from March to July, Asian Paradise Flycatchers are found on the southern side of the Himalayan mountain range in western China and central Asia, as far north as Kazakhstan. ("Indian Paradise-flycatcher", 2016; Kloss and Chasen, 1928; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009a)


Asian paradise flycatchers are most frequently found in deciduous, evergreen, and bamboo forests with thick shrubbery on the ground. They typically live in areas with an average annual rainfall between 600 mm and 2,000 mm, consistent with temperate forest and tropical rainforest biomes. Asian paradise flycatchers are found at elevations ranging from 0 to 1,500 m above sea level, with an average of 1,000 m.

Asian paradise flycatchers tend to nest in areas near streams that dry up during certain times of the year. They mostly nest in trees or saplings 1 to 2 m above the ground, in areas that are shrouded by greenery and away from roads. (Avissar, et al., 2016; "Indian Paradise-flycatcher", 2016; Gokula and Vijayan, 2003; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009b; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009a)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 1,500 m
    0.00 to ft
  • Average elevation
    1,000 m

Physical Description

Asian paradise flycatchers have differing appearances based on their sex and level of maturity. Males reach sizes slightly larger than females. They have ten primary feathers and twelve tail feathers. Their legs are feeble and therefore they are almost exclusively arboreal. This species tends to be smaller than other closely-related flycatchers and males are distinguishable by their long tail feathers.

Males are characterized by their exceptionally long pair of central tail feathers, which can extend up to 25 cm past the other tail feathers. Not all males develop these long central tail feathers. The eye rings of males are bold and blue. Males can occur in two morphs: rufous (reddish-brown) and white. Males may have black lines on their outer wings, which are black underneath. Their tail feathers may have black edges. The heads of males are glossy and either dark green, dark blue, or black. Their undersides are white, and their beaks and legs are light blue. As juveniles, all males are rufous and are similar in appearance to females, but can develop into a white morph after their second year. Many males remain a rufous morph for their entire lives. The rufous morph is more common than the white morph. The white morph is more common in the southern areas of their range than in the north.

Females have only a rufous morph, that is light gray or reddish-brown with a white underbelly. They have grey eye-rings and light chestnut tails that are significantly shorter than those of males. Females have glossy crowns and heads that are dull, dark and greenish or grey in color. Some females have grey areas on their necks, the sides of their breasts, and the sides of their faces.

Asian paradise flycatcher nestlings are primarily chestnut colored, with rufous tails and dull-white underbellies. The heads, throats, and chests of chicks are darker than the rest of their bodies. These areas also have hints of rufous color. ("Common or Asian Paradise Flycatchers (Terpsiphone paradisi)", 2011; "Asian Paradise Flycatcher", 2019; Bowdler Sharpe, 1879; Lydekker, 1904; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009b; Sridhar and Shanker, 2013)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • male larger
  • sexes colored or patterned differently
  • male more colorful
  • sexes shaped differently
  • ornamentation
  • Range mass
    18.5 to 21.8 g
    0.65 to 0.77 oz
  • Average mass
    19.1 g
    0.67 oz
  • Range length
    19 to 22 cm
    7.48 to 8.66 in
  • Range wingspan
    8.6 to 9.2 cm
    3.39 to 3.62 in


In one study, it was found that male Asian paradise flycatchers with long tails tended to father larger clutches with heavier birth weights. Additionally, they were observed to breed earlier in the season than short-tailed males. These findings suggest that females prefer males with long central tail feathers, but may also suggest that short tailed males are young and have young mates, and therefore have less reproductive success. The same study noted that the morph of male birds had no correlation to reproductive success.

The exaggerated tail feathers of males is likely present due to sexual selection. This tail does not seem to increase fitness in any other way. This claim is supported by the fact that young birds do not have these long tail feathers. The presence of a long tail might hinder their ability to catch prey and fly.

Asian paradise flycatchers are monogamous and both parents contribute to nest building, brooding, and nestling care. Due to their monogamous behavior, unattractive males are usually still able to breed, but tend to have eggs later in the breeding season than attractive males. (Mizuta and Yamagishi, 1998; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009b)

Pairs of Asian paradise flycatchers are iteroparous, meaning they breed multiple times throughout their life. They breed sexually and fertilization happens internally. This species is oviparous.

Asian paradise flycatchers breed from March to July. Breeding pairs typically spend about a week building nests together, using spider webs, sticks, and roots as construction materials. Oftentimes, nests are built in close proximity to drongo (family Dicruridae) nests for additional protection from predators. After their nests are built, females gestate eggs for 2 to 4 days before laying them. Clutch sizes vary from 2 to 4 eggs, which are light pink and have brownish red speckles. Parents spend 14 to 18 days incubating eggs before they hatch. After chicks hatch, their parents provide 10 to 12 days of additional care. ("Common or Asian Paradise Flycatchers (Terpsiphone paradisi)", 2011; "Asian Paradise Flycatcher", 2019; Lydekker, 1904; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009b; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009a)

  • Breeding interval
    Asian paradise flycatchers breed from March to July, and may breed more than once if the first nest is lost.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding season for T. paradisi lasts from early March to July.
  • Range eggs per season
    2 to 4
  • Range time to hatching
    14 to 18 days
  • Average time to hatching
    15 days
  • Range fledging age
    10 to 12 days
  • Range time to independence
    26 to 34 days

Male and female Asian paradise flycatchers display a high level of parental investment. Both parents participate in the incubation, protection and provisioning of chicks. Parental involvement lasts between 26 and 34 days total (not including time spent nest-building). Before fertilization, parents construct a nest together. After fertilizing, 2 to 4 days are spent gestating and laying eggs and 14 to 18 days are spent incubating. After hatching, chicks are altricial for a few days. Parents take turns providing food and protection to their young for 10 to 12 days after they hatch. (Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009a)

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • male parental care
  • female parental care
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female


Little is known about the lifespan of Asian paradise flycatchers at this time. However, there is some documentation about nestling mortality rates. Breeding success is impacted by predation and tree-falls. In one study, it was found that only 44.4% of young survived past the nestling phase. (Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009b)


Asian paradise flycatchers may be solitary but may also interact with their mates outside of breeding season. They migrate north during their breeding season alone or with their mates. They are motile and relies on flight to catch prey. Asian paradise flycatchers move quickly between branches and have feeble legs that are not suitable for extensive walking on the ground. For this reason, Asian paradise flycatchers are very much an arboreal species. These birds are sometimes found in heterospecific flocks. ("Asian Paradise Flycatcher", 2019; Gokula and Vijayan, 2003; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009a; Sridhar and Shanker, 2013)

Home Range

There is a lack of information regarding the territory size of T. paradisi.

Communication and Perception

Asian paradise flycatchers communicate vocally using a variety of songs and calls. They have a well-developed sense of sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. There is limited information about the meanings of different flycatcher songs and calls. (Filip, 2019; "Indian Paradise Flycatcher - Terpsiphone Paradisi", 2019)

Food Habits

Asian paradise flycatchers are known to eat insects. Their primary adaptation for hunting is sallying (pouncing between tree branches and catching insects midair, also known as flycatching), but they can occasionally be seen gleaning (picking prey from the ground or leaves). They have a notched beak that helps them catch insects. Asian paradise flycatchers will eat insects without wings but typically eat flying insects caught mid-air. The specific species preyed upon by Asian paradise flycatchers are not well documented. (Gokula and Vijayan, 2003; Lydekker, 1904)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects


The rufous color morph of Asian paradise flycatchers is most likely an adaptation to camouflage them from predators. This claim is supported by the fact that the rufous morph of males is more common than the white morph. Furthermore, nestlings and females always display a rufous color. As male Asian paradise flycatchers mature, their protective rufous morph may develop into a sexually attractive white morph, but limited numbers of birds with this morph in comparison to rufous birds suggest that that they are more easily predated and thus unfavored by selection. (Bowdler Sharpe, 1879; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009b)

  • Anti-predator Adaptations
  • cryptic
  • Known Predators
    • Unknown

Ecosystem Roles

Asian paradise flycatchers prey upon insects. Other animals in their habitat commonly prey upon their eggs and nestlings. Little documentation exists regarding the specific species that prey on Asian paradise flycatchers. One method of protection against predators is nesting near birds in the family Dicruridae. This commensal relationship can increase the survival rates of Asian paradise flycatcher young. ("Common or Asian Paradise Flycatchers (Terpsiphone paradisi)", 2011; Gokula and Vijayan, 2003; Ngoenjun and Sitasuwan, 2009a)

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Asian paradise flycatchers are used in pet trades, as display animals, or for horticulture. They may also be a source of bird watching ecotourism, as implied by their presence in bird watching community forums and bird watching guides.

Asian paradise flycatchers are insectivores and their dietary habits may reduce the presence of insect pest species. ("Indian Paradise-flycatcher", 2016; Lydekker, 1904)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

There are no known adverse effects of Asian paradise flycatchers on humans.

Conservation Status

Asian paradise flycatchers are categorized as a species of "Least Concern" on the IUCN Red List. They are not listed in the CITES appendices, the United States Endangered Species Act list, or the protected list of the United States Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This species is not the target of any ongoing conservation efforts. ("Indian Paradise-flycatcher", 2016)


Tiffany Deeds (author), Colorado State University, Kate Gloeckner (editor), Colorado State University, Galen Burrell (editor), Special Projects.



uses sound to communicate


living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.


Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


an animal that mainly eats meat


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

cooperative breeder

helpers provide assistance in raising young that are not their own


having markings, coloration, shapes, or other features that cause an animal to be camouflaged in its natural environment; being difficult to see or otherwise detect.

  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.

humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.


offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

male parental care

parental care is carried out by males


makes seasonal movements between breeding and wintering grounds


Having one mate at a time.


having the capacity to move from one place to another.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map


reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

pet trade

the business of buying and selling animals for people to keep in their homes as pets.


rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

sexual ornamentation

one of the sexes (usually males) has special physical structures used in courting the other sex or fighting the same sex. For example: antlers, elongated tails, special spurs.


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


Living on the ground.


the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.


living in cities and large towns, landscapes dominated by human structures and activity.


uses sight to communicate


birds.kz. 2019. "Asian Paradise Flycatcher" (On-line). Birds.kz. Accessed February 25, 2019 at http://www.birds.kz/v2taxon.php?s=505&l=en.

beautyofbirds.com. 2011. "Common or Asian Paradise Flycatchers (Terpsiphone paradisi)" (On-line). Beauty of Birds. Accessed February 25, 2019 at https://www.beautyofbirds.com/asianparadiseflycatchers.html.

Xeno-canto Foundation. 2019. "Indian Paradise Flycatcher - Terpsiphone Paradisi" (On-line). Xeno-Canto. Accessed March 24, 2019 at https://www.xeno-canto.org/species/Terpsiphone-paradisi?view=3.

Birdlife International. 2016. "Indian Paradise-flycatcher" (On-line). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Accessed February 08, 2019 at https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/103715992/119299885.

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Filip, V. 2019. "Asian Paradise-flycatcher, Terpsiphone paradisi floris" (On-line). Avian Vocalizations Center. Accessed February 08, 2019 at http://avocet.zoology.msu.edu/recordings/9058.

Gokula, V., L. Vijayan. 2003. Foraging and nesting behaviour of Asian Paradise-flycatcher Terpsiphone paradisi in Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, India. Forktail, vol. 19: 142-144. Accessed February 25, 2019 at https://orientalbirdclub.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Gokula-Paradise-flycatcher.pdf.

Gokula, V., L. Vijayan. 2000. Foraging pattern of birds during the breeding season in thorn forest of Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, Tamil Nadu, Southern India. Tropical Ecology, vol. 41, no. 2: 195- 208. Accessed February 08, 2019 at https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Varadharajan_Gokula/publication/252805623_Foraging_pattern_of_birds_during_the_breeding_season_in_thorn_forest_of_Mudumalai_wildlife_sanctuary_Tamil_Nadu_Southern_India/links/0f317531921d22aed2000000/Foraging-pattern-of-birds-during-the-breeding-season-in-thorn-forest-of-Mudumalai-wildlife-sanctuary-Tamil-Nadu-Southern-India.pdf.

Kloss, C., F. Chasen. 1928. Notes on Paradise Flycatchers in Malaysia. Journal of the Malayan Branch of Royal Asiatic Society, vol. 6, no. 3: 65-68. Accessed February 08, 2019 at https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy2.library.colostate.edu/stable/41559705?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents.

Lydekker, R. 1904. Library of Natural History: Volume 3. Akron, Ohio: Saalfield Publishing Company. Accessed February 08, 2019 at https://play.google.com/books/reader?id=QUdAAQAAMAAJ&hl=en&pg=GBS.PR4.

Mizuta, T., S. Yamagishi. 1998. BREEDING BIOLOGY OF MONOGAMOUS ASIAN PARADISE FLYCATCHER TERPSIPHONE PARADISI/ (AVES: MONARCHIDAE): A SPECIAL REFERENCE TO COLOUR DIMORPHISM AND EXAGGERATED LONG TAILS IN MALE. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, vol. 46, no. 1: 101-112. Accessed March 04, 2019 at https://lkcnhm.nus.edu.sg/app/uploads/2017/06/46rbz101-112.pdf.

Ngoenjun, P., N. Sitasuwan. 2009. Post-Hatching Growth and Development of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone Paradisi). Research Journal of Biological Sciences, vol. 4, no. 12: 1244-1249. Accessed February 08, 2019 at http://docsdrive.com/pdfs/medwelljournals/rjbsci/2009/1244-1249.pdf.

Ngoenjun, P., N. Sitasuwan. 2009. Use of a Blind to Observe the Breeding Behaviour of the Asian Paradise Flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi L. ). The Asian Journal of Biology Education, vol. 4: 2-7. Accessed February 08, 2019 at http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

Sridhar, ., K. Shanker. 2013. Using intra-flock association patterns to understand why birds participate in mixed-species foraging flocks in terrestrial habitats. Behavioral Ecology and Sociology, vol. 68: 185-196. Accessed February 08, 2019 at https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy2.library.colostate.edu/stable/pdf/43599800.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3A700a19b756925eb72387631ca986e196.