Yellow-rumped Flycatcher: Hunting-perching behaviour

posted in: Feeding strategy | 0

“Had a chance to observe four female Yellow-rumped Flycatcher (Ficedula zanthopygia) a while ago and would like to share their hunting and perching behavior.

Image on the left shows well developed female perched on a rotting trunk with a remnant insectile wing lodged onto its forehead after a hunt under available light. Image on the right shows wing jump behavior when exposed to flash photography.

“The flycatcher was first observed to be hunting in the confines of a sprawling shrub one fine afternoon, darting restlessly from one branch to another to feast on the air-borne inhabitants. By appearance, all four females are cloaked in brownish-yellow shades each characterised by a prominent yellow rump. The pale yellow eye ring and greyish whiskered beak appeared well formed with the exception of a single female showing partially developed beak towards the corner, evident by the presence of soft yellow tissue resembling that of a fledging sunbird and a perceived emaciated frame, suggesting perhaps an under nourished female(?).

“When hunting, these flycatchers would fan its tail in an up and down motion before darting to attack on its prey, in a manner similar to that of a Pied Fantail (Rhipidura javanica). Interestingly, the flycatcher may also pick its food from under the leaves to create a protein rich diet. While thee appeared to be incessantly active in pursuit of food in an effort to replenish its lost body weight to continue with its wintering voyage, there were periods when they appeared predictable, as judged by their consistent perching behavior. For example, one female was observed to perch consistently on a rotting trunk between flights even in the presence of observers (<1-5m away), suggesting a certain level of tolerance possible with this species (or perhaps it is the lure of food?). "Unlike sunbirds, the Yellow-rumped Flycatchers do not respond well to flash photography, evident by the abrupt wing-jump behavior whenever a flash gun is fired. But it is perhaps to be able to maintain close proximity observation in solitude that makes the encounter so enchanting." . . Dr Jeff Lim
23rd September 2009

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