Tuesday, 16 May 2017




Collared Flycatcher

Text by Stefan Rust

(In terms of the Geneva Convention the copyright of these texts belongs to Stefan Rust)

People usually visit the Chobe Safari Lodge in order to explore the neighboring Chobe National Park, cool off in the swimming pool or dine on the superb buffet. But by wandering around on the lodge property the bird and birder friendly garden will reveal many exciting birds that birders have probably spent hours eyeing in their field guide.

On the 30th of October 2013 our small group of one ornithologist and eight travellers arrived at the Chobe Safari Lodge. This lodge was awarded a Bird & Birder Friendly Award by BirdsConTour for its work in maintaining a bird friendly garden.
After a short break, the garden, containing many species of birds, was inspected. While searching for birds I paused every few minutes, scanning trees and bushes. All senses were switched on, like being on a hunt. Suddenly my eyes detected a movement in the canopy of an umbrella acacia tree just 15 metres from where I’ve halted in silence. I felt great excitement when I identified this small bird, 12-13cm, pale brown in color with a noticeable significant broad pale vertical mark leading from the white wing bar to the edge of its wing as a non-breeding either male, female or juvenile Collared Flycatcher, Ficedula albicollis. Watching in disbelief at this special bird it allowed me great views of it while typically darting out from its perch to hawk insects.
This was one of very few sightings of this rare migrant to southern Africa, possibly the first record for Kasane, Botswana. Inhabiting savanna, woodland, parks and gardens it has been found in isolated localities in Namibia, Zimbabwe and the Transvaal.
This small passerine bird of the Old World flycatcher family, one of the four species of the Western Palearctic black-and-white flycatchers, breeds in Eastern France to the Balkans and Ukraine. This rare vagrant in Western Europe overwinters in tropical and southern Africa, south of the equator.
The global population is not declining for example more than 30% in ten years or three generations and therefore the conservation status of this species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Whereby most flycatchers are monogamous, the Collared Flycatcher is polygamous with a deceptive mating behavior in which males defend two or seldom more distant territories in succession, acquiring a female to each territory. The female that is first attracted to a territory is described as the “primary” female and the second of another territory is referred to as the “secondary”. The purpose of having two distant territories is that the males can hide from other females the fact that they are already mated and can increase their number of offspring at cost of the “secondary” female because after egg-laying males desert their secondary females, mainly assisting their primary female to feed the young. Since single-handed feeding by the “secondary” female, some of her young may die from undernourishment. Bgamy thus is  an adaptive feature in the Collared Flycatcher.
With this fairly shy and inconspicuous but special bird in its garden the Chobe Safari Lodge once again proved being a bird friendly establishment.

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