Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Indian Paradise-flycatcher

The Indian Paradise-flycatcher is usually about 20cm in length but the long tail streamers double this. The bird in the images on this post is roughly three years old. The adult Indian paradise-flycatcher has a white body but the juvenile has a chestnut coloured body, similar to the Ceylon Paradise-flycatcher. The juveniles start moulting into their white plumage in their third year. The bird pictured in these images has just started the moulting process. More images and info after the jump.

The females of both species are similar to the males in colour but lack the long tail streamers. Several races are recognised but further study is required. Subtle differences in colour and markings differentiate the races from each other. The race found in peninsular India and Sri Lanka has very long streamers and crests.  The Paradise flycatcher is a noisy bird with a sharp skreek call. It also has short legs and sits very upright whilst perched. They bathe in small pools of water in the afternoon by diving from a perch.

I have grown up with this bird visiting my garden towards the end of every year. We started recording the date which it first appeared and found that for a period of over ten years, the variation was around 10 days.

It was pretty easy to see this bird as it arrived in our garden at roughly the same time every evening. It also followed the same path to the pond where it had a bath. Unfortunately the perches it used were in the canopy or quite well hidden from view. The bird was also very shy and would fly off as soon as it saw anyone. This made getting a clear shot of it almost impossible.

The image above clearly shows the tail feathers and some of the upper parts moulting into white plumage. This would mean that the bird is three years of age.

These shots were captured over a period of a month between mid December and mid January. The shots were taken when the bird had paused for a relatively long period of time to feed. All these shots were taken with a 100-400mm lens mounted on a Canon 7D. The ISO was around 400 in order to use a faster shutter speed.

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