Pale Blue Flycatcher – juvenile male

posted in: birds, Identification | 0

I was walking a trail today when I spotted this juvenile actively self-feeding. No adults were in attendance and no calls were heard. The bird was feeding largely by aerial-sallying from perches and snatching caterpillars and insects from the tree foliage. Prey was extensively branch-swiped before being eaten and the bird would land on a different perch after catching prey. Prey was taken every 3-4 minutes.

I initially thought, in view of location and common birds there, that this was an Indochinese Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis sumatrensis) [previously included as part of Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher Cyornis tickelliae]. However the bird was developing blue plumage on the breast, making this unlikely. Wells (2007) also notes of juvenile Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher that the lores are whitish.

The only flycatcher that fits well is the Pale Blue Flycatcher (Cyornis unicolor cyanopolia) juvenile male. Wells (2007) notes that in juveniles there is a narrow buff eye ring, and this can be seen in some views, especially in lower light. Note that the moulting into adulthood is not uniform on both sides of the body.

OBI quotes Mlíkovský (2011) on nomenclature of Cyornis flycatchers to use C. u. cyanopolia – “subspecific name cyanopolia replaces harterti and infuscatus for the birds of the Malay Peninsula, Sumatra, Java and Borneo”. HBW (2020) uses C. u. harterti.

I would appreciate any opinions about the Identification.


Amar-Singh HSS (Dato’ Dr) – Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Location: Kledang-Sayong Forest Reserve, Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia

Habitat: Trail along primary jungle

Date: 13th August 2020

Equipment: Equipment: Nikon D500 SLR with Nikon AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/5.6E PF ED VR, handheld with Rode VideoMic Pro Plus Shotgun Microphone



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Dr Wee played a significant role as a green advocate in Singapore through his extensive involvement in various organizations and committees: as Secretary and Chairman for the Malayan Nature Society (Singapore Branch), and with the Nature Society (Singapore) as founding President (1978-1995). He has also served in the Nature Reserve Board (1987-1989), Nature Reserves Committee (1990-1996), National Council on the Environment/Singapore Environment Council (1992-1996), Work-Group on Nature Conservation (1992) and Inter-Varsity Council on the Environment (1995-1997). He is Patron of the Singapore Gardening Society and was appointed Honorary Museum Associate of the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) in 2012. In 2005, Dr Wee started the Bird Ecology Study Group. With more than 6,000 entries, the website has become a valuable resource consulted by students, birdwatchers and researchers locally and internationally. The views and opinions expressed in this article are his own, and do not represent those of LKCNHM, the National University of Singapore or its affiliated institutions.

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