Wild Birds

Asian Brown Flycatchers

The Asian Brown Flycatchers, Muscicapa dauurica, is a small passerine bird in the flycatcher family Muscicapidae. It includes the Brown-streaked Flycatcher, which is sometimes considered a distinct species of Muscicapa Williamson.

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica
Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica


Distribution / Range

This is an insectivorous species that breeds in Japan, eastern Siberia, and the Himalayas. It is migratory and winters in tropical southern Asia from southern India and Sri Lanka east to Indonesia.

Asian Brown Flycatchers are an extremely rare vagrant in Western Europe. Records have come from Britain, Denmark, and Sweden, and in addition, there are unproven claims from Ireland, Faeroe, and Norway.

On 3 October 2007, the first winter Brown Flycatcher was discovered at Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire which attracted hundreds of birdwatchers during its stay which lasted until dusk of the following day.

This looks set to become the first accepted record. A previous record, on Fair Isle, on 1-2 July 1992 [3] was regarded by the BOURC as not definitely of wild origin.

A bird had also been claimed on Holy Island, Northumberland on 9 Sept 1956, but the identification was not accepted with beyond doubt.

Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica)


This species is 13 cm long, including the cocked tail. It is similar in shape to the larger Spotted Flycatchers but is relatively longer-tailed. The dark bill is relatively large and broad-based.

The adult has grey-brown upperparts, which become greyer as the plumage ages, and whitish underparts with brown-tinged flanks.

Young birds have scaly brown upper parts, head, and breast.

Geographical Variation

Although usually treated as monotypic if the Brown-streaked Flycatcher is not included, Rasmussen and Anderton, in Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide argues that populations in the Indian subcontinent and the Andaman Islands should be regarded as a separate subspecies, poonensis, from the nominate race which occupies most of the species’ range.

They describe poonensis as paler and browner above, with a deeper bill, and mostly pale lower mandible, a more mottled throat, breast, and flanks (in fresh plumage), less contrastingly white “spectacles” and throat, and perhaps a more rounded wing.

Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica


Asian Brown Flycatchers are a common bird found in open woodland and cultivated areas. It nests in a hole in a tree, laying four eggs which are incubated by the female.

The male Asian Brown Flycatchers sing a simple melodic song during courtship.

This bird is parasitized by the chewing louse Philopterus davuricae.


  1. BirdLife International (2004). Muscicapa dauurica. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 12 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  2. Rasmussen, Pamela C. and John C. Anderton (2005) Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide ISBN 84-87334-67-9
  3. Harvey, Paul (1992) The Brown Flycatcher on Fair Isle – a new British bird Birding World 5(7):252-255
  • Birds of India by Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, ISBN 0-691-04910-6
Asian Brown Flycatcher, Muscicapa dauurica,

Further Reading

  • Bradshaw, C., P. J. Jepson and N. J. Lindsey. (1991) Identification of brown flycatchers British Birds 84(12):527-542
  • Alström, Per and Erik Hirschfeld (1991) Field identification of Brown, Siberian and Grey-streaked Flycatchers Birding World 4(8):271-278

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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