Roberts’ No 710
by Pompie Burger
Some people have big cars, some have holiday houses in Swakopmund, and others are privileged to have a pair of Paradise flycatchers breeding in their garden. Speaking for myself, I have none of these luxuries.
As far as looks are concerned, one could probably rate the Paradise flycatcher amongst the top five in the world (when speaking of garden birds). I always thought that taking pictures of birds in and around their nests was unethical, but I must confess: seeing a pair of Paradise flycatchers at their small, superbly constructed nest made me change my mind, although it was just for a day.
Their scientific name, Terpsiphone viridis, means delightful sound and cheerful voice. One could say some birds have beautiful voices, others spectacular looks, and yet others arty nest-building skills or impressive flying abilities. However, the Paradise flycatcher has all of these, which is really not fair, but that’s life. [Some people have big cars and big houses or holiday apartments in Swakopmund and a pair of Paradise flycatchers breeding in their garden, so!] The male Paradise flycatcher’s tail is more than twice its body length, which is probably just for show!
These beautiful little birds are relatively common breeding migrants in Namibia. They arrive early in September and leave by the end of May. As can be seen on the distribution map, they occur throughout the central and north-eastern parts of the country. Apart from being garden birds, they are often seen at lodges and in riverine forests, savannah thickets and other woodlands. Their diet consists mainly of insects.
So, instead of investing in a garden gnome next year, rather try to attract a pair of Paradise Flycatchers to nest in your garden!
About the author:
Based in Windhoek, Pompie Burger is an orthopaedic surgeon whose part-time passion is photography, in particular wildlife, and specifically birds. This regularly takes him to the most remote corners of the country, resulting in riveting images and articles.
Pompie is the author and photographer of the coffee table book Birds of Namibia, which was published in 2008. The book contains articles and photographs which attest to the insight and knowledge of an accomplished observer.
Read more of his articles in our Birding Section.
This article appeared in the May/June ‘04 edition of Travel News Namibia.
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