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Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Blue & white flycatcher

* Japanese name: Ooruri
* Scientific name: Cyanoptila cyanomelana
* Description: The blue and white flycatcher is a handsome migratory songbird, about 16-cm long, with a vivid, electric-blue cap, back, wings and tail. The breast is white and the face, eyes and bill are brown-black. At least, the males are -- the females, on the other hand, are brown where the male is so vividly blue. The male's plumage is unusual for this very large family of birds in that it has both male-like (blue wings and tail) and female-like (brown head and underparts) aspects.
The blue and white flycatcher is one of three songbirds in Japan that are famous for their songs (the others are the Japanese robin and the Japanese bush warbler). Its song is complex, fluid, trilling and energetic. In the breeding season (spring and summer) it emits a peculiar "goo-goo" noise.
* Where to find them: A migrant, it can only be seen in Japan in the late spring, summer and early autumn, when it nests and feeds in natural habitats, preferably open woodland with lots of good perch sites. It can also be seen in gardens and parks.
The blue and white flycatcher builds a well-constructed, cup-shaped nest in a tree or bush. As autumn draws on, the birds leave Japan, preferring to winter in the warmer climes of Southeast Asia.
* Food: As the name suggests, mainly insects, which the bird takes on the wing. It can be seen perching conspicuously, watching for passing insects, which it flies out to catch, and then returns with to the perch. Blue and white flycatchers also eat seeds.
* Special features: Males devote much energy to singing, in order to attract females, who also ogle the males' bright colors. Females might not be as interesting as the males to look at, but their physiology more than makes up for it. Their reproductive tract contains multiple tubules, and when they mate they store the sperm from the male in these tubules, nourishing the sperm and keeping them alive. It's a familiar story: males look flashy, but females have more going on beneath the surface.


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