Leaden Flycatcher

Did you know?

Flycatchers have small rictal bristles around their bills. These are modified feathers that act as sensors to help the bird capture flying insects.

Clear, loud repeated whistling: 'too-whit' or 'too-whee'; also, harsh rattles and buzzes
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
September to November in south; August to February in north.
Clutch Size: 
2 to 3
15 days
Nestling Period: 
15 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Leaden Flycatcher is a small bird, mainly dark blue grey above and white below, with a small crest and a broad black-tipped blue bill surrounded by small bristles. It is sexually dimorphic (two forms), with males having entirely dark blue-grey upperparts, head and chest, while females have a blue-grey head and back with a distinctive reddish orange chin, throat and breast merging gradually into white lower parts, as well as a pale eye-ring. Young birds are brown-grey above with streaked wings and mottled brown chests with a reddish wash.

Similar species: 

The Leaden Flycatcher is similar to both the Broad-billed Flycatcher,M. ruficollis, and the Satin FlycatcherM. cyanoleuca. Both sexes of the Broad-billed Flycatcher are similar in colouring, but lighter and less glossy, to the female Leaden Flycatcher. They differ by having a broader, wide-based bill and a brighter orange on the chest; this species is also found only in far northern tropical habitats. The very similar (and sexually dimorphic) Satin Flycatcher has females and young birds that tend to be darker above, while the males have more glossy heads and chests and a darker chest, wings and tail.

Where does it live?

The Leaden Flycatcher is found across northern Australia and down the east coast of Australia, from the Kimberley region, Western Australia to eastern Victoria. It is a vagrant to the Mount Lofty Ranges, South Australia and to Tasmania. It is also found in New Guinea and nearby islands.


The Leaden Flycatcher is found in tall and medium open forests, mainly in coastal areas, preferring drier habitats than the Satin Flycatcher.

Seasonal movements: 

Southern populations make seasonal movements northwards in winter to northern Queensland and Papua New Guinea, returning south to breed in spring. Northern populations tend to be sedentary or only locally nomadic.

What does it do?

The Leaden Flycatcher feeds on insects caught while on the wing or gleaned from foliage. They feed in the mid-canopy, darting from tree to tree in pairs or alone, perching only briefly on exposed twigs where they call and fan their short crests.


The Leaden Flycatcher builds a shallow, cup-shaped nest of bark and grass held together by spider web and decorated with pieces of bark and lichen, on an exposed limb about 3 m to 25 m above the ground. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young. Unlike most other flycatchers, both adults may call from the nest.

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