A study in blue: The Tickell’s blue flycatcher
Know your birds: This is a bird that feeds on insects and which breeds in tropical Asia, from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards to Southeast Asia. Its range stretches across all the countries from India to Indonesia.
Every afternoon I would sit quietly at the large open windows of our house in Goa and watch the little Tickell’s blue flycatcher (Cyornis tickelliae). It is a small perching bird belonging to the flycatcher family, and would come for a splash in the old Kadai which I filled with a few inches of water. This is a bird that feeds on insects and which breeds in tropical Asia, from the Indian Subcontinent eastwards to Southeast Asia. Its range stretches across all the countries from India to Indonesia.
The tiny bird would fly down from a tall tree in the garden and perch on the rim of the old kadai, quickly scan the place for safety and then splash, splash and out. The bird is blue on the upper part and the throat and breast are rufous like Donald Trump’s tan! ( No offence to the bird!) They are found in dense scrub to forest habitats and our village in Goa is in the hills with a lot of vegetation. The name commemorates the British ornithologist Samuel Tickell who first sighted it.
The beautiful picture accompanying this story is shot by Praveen Easwarappa. He explains, “ This was shot with canon 7d Mk 2 with 300 mm canon lens .This bird is not very shy and is used to human movements .This bird is difficult to locate and easily heard from its metallic whistle. It was giving us beautiful poses by jumping from one branch to another near the famous Dandeli timber woods .Once this bird came into open very near me ,I seized the opportunity to capture it .The picture is the result of it . In Nandi Hills In spite of a crowd , it does come into open branches and catches flies.”
According to Wiki, the Tickell’s Blue Flycatcher is about 11–12 cm long. It sits upright and forages mainly in the overgrowth. The male’s upper parts are bright blue, it’s throat and breast are red, and the rest of the underparts are white. The female is duller blue with a brighter blue brow, shoulder, rump, and tail. They have sometimes been known to feed even after dusk. Apart from flying insects they have been noted to occasionally gobble up crawling insects.
This is a widespread species and so shows regional variations in plumage and size.The Tickell’s blue flycatcher breeds in dry forest, scrub, bamboo and gardens. The metallic song of the bird includes a series of clicks followed by five or six notes that end abruptly. It is a wary bird and not always easily observed.
The area around our Goa house is filled with trees and since it is a forest-loving species it is found in thick cover and shade and so its presence.They feed mainly by capturing insects in flight but their prey include other insects such as termites picked from the ground.The breeding season is April to August and it nests in a hole in a tree or amongst rocks that is lined with fine grass and fibres and lay 3–5 eggs.