Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article
Muscicapidae (fantails, Old World flycatchers, monarchs, whistlers; class Aves, order Passeriformes) A diverse family of often highly coloured birds, some of which have crests or wattles. The bill is narrow to broad, with rictal bristles, the wings are short and rounded to long and pointed, the tail is usually short to medium, and the legs are short. Muscicapids are mainly arboreal and feed on insects caught in the air or on the ground. The nest is usually cup-shaped and made in a tree or bush, or in a hole in a tree or bank. Many are migratory. The flycatchers (27 species of Ficedula and 22 species of Muscicapa) and monarchs (30 species of Monarcha) are typical. Fantails (about 40 species of Rhipidura) inhabit dense forest and scrub in south-east Asia, Australasia, and some Pacific islands (but willie wagtail (R. leucophrys) is a common garden bird). Whistlers (28 species of Pachycephala, found in south-east Asia, Indonesia, New Guinea, Australia, and Pacific islands) have large heads and stout bills. There are about 60 genera in the family, with about 350 species, most of which are migratory, found in Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australasia. Maluridae and Epthianuridae are sometimes included in this family.