AppearanceThe adult male African paradise flycatcher is about 17 cm long, but the very long tail streamers double this. It has a black head, neck and underparts, and chestnut wings and tail. There is a prominent white wingbar. The female has a browner tint to the underparts and lacks the wingbar and tail streamers. Young birds are similar to the female but duller.
The males show considerable variation in plumage in some areas. There is a morph of this species in which the male has the chestnut parts of the plumage replaced by white, and some races have black tail streamers.
The red-bellied paradise flycatcher, ''Terpsiphone rufiventer'', is closely related to this species, and hybrids occur with the underparts a mixture of black and red.
DistributionThe African paradise flycatcher is found in most parts of Africa south of the Sahara Desert.
StatusThis species is usually found in open forests and savannah habitats and the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed it as being of "least concern".
BehaviorThe African paradise flycatcher is a noisy bird with a harsh scolding call. It has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched prominently, like a shrike. It is insectivorous, often hunting by catching flies on the wing, and eating eggs, larvae and adults. It also feeds on spiders and sometimes consumes berries. The cup-shaped nest is built in a tree and a clutch of two or three eggs are laid.
HabitatIts typical habitat is savannah woodland, open grassland with isolated trees, plantations, open woodland and scrubland.
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