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Terpsiphone viridis (African paradise-flycatcher) 

ParadysvlieŽvanger [Afrikaans]; Ujejane, Unomaphelana [Xhosa]; iNzwece, uVe [Zulu]; Kapantsi-ea-meru [South Sotho]; Mmakgwadi [North Sotho]; Nglhazi [Tsonga]; Afrikaanse paradijsmonarch [Dutch]; Tchitrec d'Afrique [French]; Paradiesschnšpper [German]; Papa-moscas-do-paraŪso [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Monarchidae

Terpsiphone viridis (African paradise-flycatcher) 

African paradise-flycatcher. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from very arid areas. In southern Africa, it is common from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Botswana to large areas of South Africa, all the way down to Cape Town. It generally prefers woodland and forest, such as Brachystegia (miombo) woodland, evergreen forest and suburban gardens.

Distribution of African paradise-flycatcher in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the following birds:

Movements and migrations

It is a breeding migrant with two separate subspecies, each arriving in different areas and during different times of the year:

  • T. v. grantii breeds around the coast of South Africa through to most of Mozambique. It arrives around September, staying until about April, although it varies greatly year-to-year.

  • T. v. plumbeiceps occupies the rest of its southern African distribution, arriving mainly in October and also leaves during April.


It mainly eats invertebrates, such as moths, termite alates, beetles and flies, occasionally eating small berries. It uses a variety of foraging techniques, catching most of its prey on the wing, although it regularly gleans insects from leaves and branches. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Both sexes participate in the construction of the nest, usually sharing the workload equally. It consists of a small cup of twigs and bark held together with spider web, decorated with lichen and often a "trail" of spider web and leaves dangling from its base.
  • Egg-laying season peaks from October-December.
  • It lays 1-4 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 11-19 days. They change shifts every 20-60 minutes, although the female often does most of the incubating at night.
Terpsiphone viridis (African paradise-flycatcher) Terpsiphone viridis (African paradise-flycatcher)
African paradise-flycatcher male sitting on nest. [photo Stephen Davis ©] African paradise-flycatcher feeding chicks. [photo Arno Meintjes ©]
  • The chicks are brooded almost constantly for the first day or so, while they are fed small portions of insect prey. As they get older, their parents brood and feed them less often until they leave the nest at about 10-16 days old. They stay in a family group with their parents until another clutch of eggs is laid, at which point they become fully independent.


Not threatened, in fact common in large areas of sub-Saharan Africa.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.