The Asian Paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone paradisi), also known as the Common Paradise-flycatcher, is a medium-sized passerine bird. It was previously classified with the Old World flycatcher family Muscicapidae, but the paradise-flycatchers and monarch flycatchers are now placed in the family Monarchidae, and most members of this family are found in Australasia and tropical southern Asia.
The typical adult male Asian Paradise-flycatcher is about 20 cm long, but the long tail streamers double this. It has a glossy black crown and crest, blue eye-ring and a long narrow rounded tail. The body and wings are white with very long central pair of tail feathers which form streamers that droop. Subadult males lack the long tail feathers and have rufous on body and wing and have the head completely black, including a black throat. Adults males of the "rufous-morph" have rufous on the wings and tail and white on the belly. In some races it is said the the white form is absent. The Females are much like the sub-adult males or rufous-morphs but the throat is greyish and not black and they lack streamers.
Several races are recognized but need further study. In the Western Himalayas race leucogaster has pale rufous upperparts and white breast and a lot of black on the white wings. Eastern Himalayas race saturatior has a shorter crest which black shaft streaks on the upperparts of the white-morph male and the rufous-morph male is buffier below and has a rufous vent with not so long tail-streamers. Nominate race in Peninsular India and Sri Lankan race ceylonensis have very long streamers and crest. The Sri Lankan race is said to lack the white-morph. The nominate race populations from the Eastern Ghats is said to have a larger bill. The race in Central Nicobars nicobarica has an olive upper mantle and darker underparts.
The Asian Paradise-flycatcher is a noisy bird with a sharp skreek call. It has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, like a shrike. It is insectivorous, hunting by flycatching in the understory. They bathe in small pools of water in the afternoon by diving from perches.
Habitat and distribution
Female leucogaster at nest
This species is usually found in thick forests and other well-wooded habitats. The Asian Paradise-flycatcher breeds from Turkestan to Manchuria. It is migratory, wintering in tropical Asia. There are resident populations further south, for example in southern India and Sri Lanka, so both visiting migrants and the locally breeding subspecies occur in these areas in winter.
Race leucogaster breeds in the foothills of the Himalayas from Northern Afghanistan to Central Nepal. Race saturatior of Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and eastern Bangladesh is resident but may move to the adjacent plains. Race leucogaster moves to the southern Peninsula in winter. Nominate race is resident in many parts of central India but some winter in Sri Lanka.
Three or four eggs are laid in a neat cup nest made with twigs and spider webs on the end of a low branch.