Paradise Flycatchers in Shanghai – 10,000 Birds

Such an embarrassingly populist title of a weblog publish ought to clearly be adopted by some dry details. Right here goes: Paradise Flycatchers are a genus within the broader (and quite giant) household of Monarchidae. There are 17 completely different species of them, a couple of of them endangered, notably some island endemics. Whereas most of them are non-migratory, the 2 that go to Shanghai are migratory: the Amur Paradise Flycatcher and the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher.

A attribute of most however not all Paradise Flycatchers is the lengthy tail of the male hen (tail size is regarded as a criterion by which females choose their companions – please insert your personal pornographic joke right here). Which means that the hen proven under – if I’m appropriate in pondering it’s a male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher with a quite quick story – will battle to discover a accomplice this 12 months.


The Japanese Paradise Flycatcher often arrives in Shanghai a bit sooner than the Amur one, because it nonetheless has to journey on to Japan. It’s listed as Close to Threatened – the HBW cites the standard causes which might be simply different methods of claiming that people don’t care sufficient for different species, corresponding to forest loss and degradation in its winter vary. After all, for nations with principally average climates such because the US, China, Japan, or Germany, it’s at all times simpler to assert that the winter vary is the issue (i.e., not their very own).

Wikipedia claims that in Japanese, its track is rendered as tsuki-hi-hoshi, hoi-hoi-hoi, which interprets to Moon-Solar-Stars and provides the Japanese identify of the hen sankocho (actually, hen of three lights, i.e. moon, solar, star, from san three + ko lights + cho hen) – and perhaps that’s true, or perhaps the one who wrote the Wikipedia entry simply has a humorousness just like mine …


I’m positive that like me, you’ve spent many sleepless nights questioning in regards to the territory measurement of breeding Japanese Paradise Flycatchers. Concern not, science has a solution: about 1.16 hectares, which is an area of a bit greater than 100 meters by 100 meters (US readers: please do your personal conversion into sq. toes per inch, or no matter antiquated models you utilize. Simply be certain that to do the conversion accurately earlier than you launch any area shuttles).



One way or the other, watching the male Japanese Paradise Flycatcher fly with its lengthy tail following it just like the ribbons of a ribbon dancer jogs my memory of Oscar Wilde’s play “Salome” – I assume it’s the “Dance of the seven veils” affiliation … with the web page of Herodias continuously saying that “One thing horrible might occur” … and it does. Oscar Wilde was sort of my old flame as a reader after I was about 15 – perhaps I ought to learn Dorian Grey once more one in every of as of late.

There’s probably not that a lot different info on the Japanese Paradise Flycatcher. Beneath are some photographs of the feminine.



Switching to the Amur Paradise Flycatcher, which has the Latin species identify of incei.

This identify is derived from Commander John Matthew Robert Ince (1812-1850) Royal Navy, surveyor, collector in Australia, New Guinea and China (supply: HBW). Sadly, there may be not a lot info on Mr. Ince – no Wikipedia entry, so far as I can inform – simply the curious bit of knowledge that round 1846, he was on half pay on board the Fly 18 (supply). This doesn’t fairly appear to advantage naming a beautiful hen species after him, however what do I do know – I might not have named a successful card in a card recreation after an atrocious US president both …

The male is available in two morphs, although the white morph is considerably uncommon, and I didn’t see it this 12 months.

Whereas additionally migratory, the Amur Paradise Flycatcher might finish its journey in Shanghai and breed right here, although the kind of habitat it requires is getting rarer and rarer (one of many outdated locations I knew of is simply getting destroyed this 12 months).

Find out how to distinguish the 2 species, as they appear considerably related? You possibly can look it up right here – it’s a way more detailed description than I might ever handle.

Personally, I discover it nearly simpler to simply hearken to the hen – the calls are completely different, with those of the Amur Paradise Flycatcher sounding a bit extra refined to me (although to be trustworthy, none of those sound notably good – should you look this spectacular, you don’t want to be an incredible singer as nicely).


Other than that, not a lot I can say about these two species – I’ll finish with some photographs of the feminine Amur Paradise Flycatcher.



(all photographs taken at Nanhui, Shanghai in Could 2023)

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